Dried Cherry, Hazelnut and Pecan Biscotti

Dried Cherry, Hazelnut and Pecan Biscotti

The flavour sensations of dried cherries, lightly toasted hazelnuts and pecans and with the added zing of lemon zest, make this biscotti an all-time and perennial favourite. Visually appealing with the dried cherries looking like glistening rubies, serve them with your choice of coffee, or just eat them by themselves. Note that while ordinary lemons will do the job, use Meyer Lemons for that special extra if you can find them. You can also just use only hazelnuts or filberts in this recipe, substituting equal quantities for the pecans.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 50 minutes
Course Baked Goods
Cuisine International, Italian
Servings 48 Biscotti


  • 1000 ml (4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) baking powder
  • 2 ml (½ tsp) salt
  • 125 ml (½ cup) of hazelnuts cut in half, lightly toasted
  • 125 ml (½ cup) pecans coarsly chopped, lightly toasted
  • 250 ml (1 cup) dried cherries
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 4 eggs large
  • 225 ml (1⅓ cups) sugar granulated
  • 125 ml (½ cup) canola oil
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract


  • Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F)
  • Prepare large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • Take a large bowl and combine flower, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, hazelnuts and pecans
  • In a medium bowl and using a hand mixer, beat eggs until fluffy and lightly coloured. Now slowly add the sugar, followed by the oil, lemon juice and vanilla.
  • Make a cavity in the flower mix and pour in the liquid
  • Fold in the flower and mix until liquid is mostly absorbed, then add the cherries and stir until well combined
  • Moisten hands and divide dough in half
  • Pick up first half and on a clean surface quickly form into a log about 30 cm long
  • Place log on parchment paper lined baking sheet and shape into a flattened loaf about 10 cm (4 in.) wide by 35 cm (14 in.) long, moistening hands as necessary.
  • Repeat with second half of dough, keeping loafs about 5 cm (2 in.) appart
  • Bake for 35 – 40 min. or until the loafs start start to show cracks and tops take on a golden colour
  • Remove from stove and let cool until loafs are safe to handle
  • Using a bread knife, cut loafs at an angle into slices about 15 – 20 mm (1/2 – 3/4 in) thick wiping knife with a damp cloth if it becomes sticky
  • Put slices back on the baking sheet, standing them up and spacing them about 5 mm (1/4 in) apart
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C (300°F) and bake biscotti for an additional 30 -35 minutes until dry to touch
  • Remove from stove, cool completely and enjoy. Store airtight in a dry place.
Keyword biscotti, dried cherries, hazelnuts
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Lemon, Vanilla and Almond Biscotti

Lemon, Vanilla and Almond Biscotti

Zen Chef
This biscotti recipe is probably the most basic one found on my ZenGourmand site. One of the perennial favourites, it is however super delish on its crunchy own or as a dipper with your coffee or tea.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Cooling between bakes 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Baked Goods
Cuisine International, Italian
Servings 36 Biscotti



  • 90 ml Butter softened
  • 150 ml Sugar granulated
  • 150 ml Sugar brown
  • 10 ml Vanilla extract
  • Zest of one lemon
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 2 Eggs large
  • 700 ml Flour all-purpose
  • 15 ml Baking powder
  • 5 ml Salt
  • 150 ml Almonds sliced


  • 150 ml Icing sugar
  • 10 ml Lemon Juice
  • 20 ml Water


  • Preheat the oven to 160°C
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper


  • In a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, vanilla, lemon zest and juice to a soft an creamy consistency
  • Add eggs, one at a time, while continuing to mix at medium speed
  • Add flour, baking powder and salt
  • Mix using a wooden spoon until smooth
  • Fold in the almonds using your hands (dough will be sticky)


  • Moisten your hands slightly and scoop up half the dough
  • Form dough into a roll about 30 cm long and place on one long side of the baking sheet
  • Moisten hands as necessary and form the roll into a log about 33 cm long and 12 cm wide, flattening it down a bit on the process to get a nice biscotti profile
  • Repeat with the other half of the dough placing it on the other side of the baking sheet leaving a gap of about 5 cm between the two
  • Bake for 25 minutes or to a stage where the dough develops some crack and appears firm when gently pressed on
  • Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes
  • Reduce oven temperature to 150°C
  • Place loaf on a cutting board and, using a bread knife, cut crosswise into slices of about 10 to 15 mm cutting at a slight angle
  • Remove parchment paper from baking sheet and carefully place slices standing up on baking sheet maintaining a gap of 5 – 10 mm
  • Bake for an additional 20 – 25 minutes or until biscotti feel dry when touched on the sides
  • Cool completely and move slices back together


  • Combine icing sugar, water and lemon juice stirring until you get a thick creamy texture*
  • Drizzle the icing over the biscotti forming several lines along the length of the loafs
  • Let icing harden overnight before storing in a tight container


* Add more sugar if the glaze is too thin. It should just barely be able to flow slowly from a spoon dipped in the icing
Keyword almonds, lemon, vanilla
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Lamb Shanks Braised In Red Wine And Juniper

Slowly braised lamb shanks, particularly as in this recipe, are among my favorite cool weather foods. This recipe has incredible depth of flavour. A key ingredient are the dried juniper berries.These may be hard to find but worth the effort. I used to collect juniper berries at the same time I was collecting blue berries on many a canoeing trip in the Kawartha’s of Ontario (Google it).I would occasionally also buy them at a Pharmacy in Switzerland where they are commonly sold for medicinal purposes or in one of the super markets as of course they are also used in many wild game recipes.

Lamb Shanks Braised In Red Wine And Juniper

Zen Chef
Slowly braised lamb shanks that leverage the flavours of rosemary, juniper and red wine.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Canadian
Servings 4
Calories 450 kcal


  • Duch Oven (see bottom of post)


  • 4 lamb shanks
  • salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 carrot chopped
  • 1 stalk celery chopped
  • 1 bottle of red wine e.g Rhone, Grenache
  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) juniper berries
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) black pepper corns
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 garlic bulb sliced in half radially
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) salt
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) port ruby


  • Preheat the oven to 160 °C (325 °F)
  • Liberally season the shanks with salt and pepper
  • In a large, heavy bottom roasting or frying pan, heat oil on medium high and brown the shanks on all sides.
  • Put aside the shanks on a plate in a warming drawer
  • Transfer oil and juices from pan to a large dutch oven, adding more oil if needed
  • Add onions and cook until translucent
  • Add carrots and celery and cook for a couple more minutes
  • Add wine, bay leaves, juniper berries, pepper corns, rosemary, garlic and salt
  • Place the shanks into this braising mixture, cover and cook in the pre-heated oven for 3 hours
  • When cooked, gently remove shanks to a platter, tent with aluminum foil and keep warm in a warming drawer
  • Strain the braising liquid into a sauce pan
  • Bring to a boil and add the port
  • Reduce to 250 ml (1 cup)
  • Serve along side, pour over shanks or use as garlic mashed potato gravy
Keyword braised, fall, juniper berries, lamb, lamb shanks, winter
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Pear Crostata

This tart appeals to me because of its fee form and organic shape. It has the look of freedom and spontaneity. It looks artistic and has a certain wow factor.

Pear Crostata

Zen Chef
A Crostata is an Italian baked tart or pie. More specifically, it is a rustic, free-form version of an open fruit tart. It can be made with a variety of fruits. Here we use bosc pears, one of my favourite pears.
Prep Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine Canadian, Italian
Servings 8
Calories 424 kcal



  • 425 ml (1 3/4 cups) All purpose flour
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar
  • 2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 150 g (6 oz) butter room temperature, cut in small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) water, cold


  • 6 pears bosc, ripe, peeled and cored
  • 25 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice
  • 125 ml (1/2 cup) sugar, granulated
  • 45 ml (3 tbsp) butter


  • 1 egg white slightly beaten
  • 15 ml (1 tbsp) sugar, Turbinado


  • Place flour, sugar and salt into a food processor and add the butter pieces
  • Pulse on and off until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs
  • Mix egg yolk and water and with food processor running, add to the mixture
  • Turn off after a few seconds and turn mixture out onto a floured board
  • Gently knead dough into a ball, flatten into a half dome and refrigerate for 1 hour
  • Preheat oven to 200 °C (400 °F)
  • Slice pears into 8 sections, place into a baking dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and sugar and dot with butter
  • Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until crispy tender
  • Let cool off
  • Remove dough from fridge and roll out on a floured surface to a circle of about 33 cm (13 in)
  • Carefully transfer onto the back of a floured baking sheet
  • Using a fork, pick up pear slices and arrange on the pastry dough in a circular fashion starting in the middle, leaving a clear border of about 7-8 cm (3 in)
  • Reserve remaining pear juices
  • Fold the border over the fruit in a loose fashion, leaving the centre open
  • Glaze the pastry with the egg white and sprinkle Turbinado sugar over pastry and fruit
  • Bake on middle rack for about 25 minutes or until the pastry is a nice golden brown
  • Boil the pear juices down to a lightly syrupy consistency, about 5 min., and pour into the centre of the tart.
  • Serve warm or cold
Keyword fruit, pears, tart
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Apple Torte Normandie

The actual French name for this torte is “Tarte normande aux pommes”. This has to be one of my all-time favourite recipes for making “Apple Pie”.Of course the people of the Normany would know how to do this really well because apples is one of the main agricultural products they produce. Think Calvados while you’re at it.

Apple Torte Normandie

Zen Chef
An exquisite apple torte using finely sliced apples, ground almond and honey.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine French
Servings 8
Calories 280 kcal


  • Spring Form (see bottom of post)


  • 250 g Pastry dough preferably all butter pastry dough
  • Butter for the mold spring form
  • 60 g Butter liquified
  • 60 g Sugar
  • 60 g Almond ground
  • 1 Egg yolk
  • 1 tbsp Heavy cream whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp Honey lavender if you can get it
  • 3-4 Apples ripe and firm cooking, e.g. Mac’s, Gala, Imperial etc.
  • 1 tbsp Turbinado sugar
  • 1 tbsp Apricot jam or puré


  • Preheat oven to 200 °C
  • Grease the spring form with butter
  • Roll out dough and line the spring form
  • Refrigerate for 30 minutes
  • In a glass mixing bowl, melt the butter and then beat in the sugar with a hand mixer until you get a nice creamy mixture
  • Add the egg yolk and keep mixing vigorously
  • Add the almonds and the cream, continuing to mix until well combined
  • Remove the spring form from the fridge and using a fork, evenly puncture the bottom of the dough
  • Spread the honey over the bottom
  • Add the almond mixture and spread evenly over bottom
  • Peel, quarter and core the apples
  • Slice the apple quarters into very thin wedges, about 3 mm on the outside
  • Arrange apple slices in 2 concentric circles starting on the outside and overlapping sliced about 5 mm.
  • For the middle, you can place a half an apple scored to look like it’s sliced or use any remaining slices to fill in the middle as you wish
  • Sprinkle top with Turbinado and slide into the oven
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 180°C and continue baking for another 40 – 45 minutes or until you achieve a lovely colour
  • Remove the torte from the oven and let cool off a bit
  • Remove the torte from the form finish off by carefully brushing the torte all over with the apricot puré or jam
    Apple Torte Normandie
Keyword almonds, apples, honey, torte
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Champagne Orange Cranberry Biscotti

Champagne Orange Cranberry BiscottiMy entire production of Biscotti for the coming Chrismas season has sold out. You can still get your hands on some of them. All you have to do is follow this easy recipe and make them yourself ;-).
This recipe can be made into a traditional, hard biscotti or if served with a sparkling wine, as a soft biscotti.
Champagne is used as the main wet ingredient and with its fine aromas and effervescence produced a dough of subtle delicacy.

What you need:

4 cups (1L) all-purpouse flour
2 tsp (10ml) baking powder
1/2 tsp (2ml) salt
Grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup (250ml) of slivered almonds, lightly toasted (optional)
3 large eggs (4 if not using champagne)
1 1/3 cups (275ml) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) vegetable oil (1/2 if not using champagne)
1/2 cup (125ml)of champagne
2 tbsp (30ml) orange juice
1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract (almond)
1 cup (250ml) dried cranberries


  • Preheat oven to 325F (160C)
  • Line large baking sheet with parchment paper
  • In a large bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, orange zest and almonds (if using).
  • In a medium bowl beat eggs until fluffy and light in colour
    Beat in the sugar, oil, orange juice and vanilla.
    Stir in champagne.
  • Add to flour mixture and stir until nearly absorbed
  • Add cranberries and stir until all is well combined
  • With moist hands, divide dough in half and form into two loafes about 15 in (38cm) long, about 4 in (10 cm) wide and about 3/4 in (2cm) high, keeping the loafs 2 in (5cm) apart.
    Keep moistening your hands as needed. Smooth the
    loafs into desired shape.
  • Bake the loafs for about 35 minutes or until cracks start to appear and the top of the loafes take on a golden colour.
  • Remove the loafes and slide the onto a cutting board.
  • Cut the loafes diagonally into 1/2 in (1.25cm) thick slices, keeping the knife clean with a damp cloth as it becomes sticky.

For soft biscotti:

  • Place the slices on their sides on a cookie sheet and toast lightly on both sides under the broiler.
  • Cool on the baking sheet placed on a rack.

For hard biscotti:

  • Stand the slices upright on a baking sheet 1/4 – 1/2 in (1cm) appart.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 300F (150C) and bake for an sdditional 30 to 35 minutes or until the biscotti are dry.
  • Cool on the baking sheet placed on a rack.


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Cheese Fondue – Traditional Swiss Style

The Zen Gourmand series of cooking demonstrations and tutored tastings continued on Saturday January 12th with an authentic Swiss Cheese Fondue and a tasting of three appropriate whites. Traditional convention pairs cheese fondue with wines such as Fendant, Riesling, Veltliner, Gewürtz and Pinot Gris. I chose a Peller Estates Signature Series Pinot Gris 2006 1), a Hillebrand Artist Series 2006 Gewürztraminer 2) and the Peller Estates French Cross Dry White Vidal 3) which I often use a my standard white cooking wine.

Authentic Swiss Cheese FondueThe evening got under way by cracking a bottle of Ice Cuvée (see Linzer Torte post) to get everybody in the swing. It didn’t take long for the cheeses to make an appearance for sampling as well. This included Gruyere, Emmental, Appenzeller and some pretty potent Vacherin.

While the participants were still sampling cheeses I set out to pour the wines for a blind tasting (bottles carefully wrapped in aluminum foil and at proper service temperature).

Palates cleared with bread and water, the tasting proceeded and the results were not unexpected with the Pinot Gris the winner while the Gewürtz was a bit of a disappointment barely nudging out the FX Dry.

Once the fondue was prepared (using the FX Dry as the wine component) the participants had an opportunity to evaluate the wines once more on the basis of how well they paired with the fondu.

The consensus was again in favour of the Pinot Gris with the others sharing second place.

The fondue itself was a hit and the participants were polite enough not to lick the pot at the end 🙂

You can download the recipe here.

Winemaker’s notes:

1) Hint of copper colour with a fresh, aromatic nose of peach, melon, orange and banana with just a hint of white pepper spice. A medium-bodied wine with a soft, opulent mouth-feel and flavours of honeydew melon, pear and peach. A summer-fresh finish with flavours of green apple, lemon and pear

2) Intense floral aromas and lychee notes make this classically styled Gewürztraminer easy to identify. The palate is weighty with great floral notes and a hint of honeydew.

3) Pale yellow straw; Cooked pear and yellow apple aroma. Off-dry with soft round fruit flavours and light tropical fruit notes. Easy drinking wine.

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Linzer Torte & Champagne

Saturday Nov. 17th saw another successful evening of cooking demonstrations and a tutored tasting of sparkling wines with the Zen Gourmand.

The evening started out with the wine tasting. The three sparkling wines tasted were the Peller Estates Cuvée Niagara Brut 1), Trius Brut VQA 2) and the Peller Estates Signature Series Ice Cuvée VQA 3). The latter one being the clear winner.

Linzer Torte SliceThe Linzer torte was a great hit as well. I had one made up beforehand using black currant (cassis) jam which is what the earliest recorded recipes were calling for. For the actual demonstration I used the more conventionally used raspberry jam. When the demo torte was ready to eat (a bit warm still), the consensus voted for the raspberry version. Personally, I prefer the more sophisticated and a bit tarter taste of the black currant version. If you are interested in trying your hand at one of these fabulous creations, you can download the recipe here.


Signature Series Ice Cuvee VQA1) Peller Estates Cuvée Niagara Brut:  A medium-bodied sparkling wine exhibits tiny bubbles with apple, citrus and floral aromas. On the pallet echo juicy green apples and pear followed by a refreshing citrus finish.

2)  Trius Brut VQA : A medium-bodied sparkling wine offering pretty lively mousse, refreshing acidity and follows through with citrus, apple and yeasty notes.

3) Peller Estates Signature Series Ice Cuvée VQA: A brilliant yellow/straw coloured sparkling wine exhibiting aromas of apricot and ripe apple with hints of honey and yeast. These are followed by tropical fruits on the palate and a refreshing sweet grapefruit finish.

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Rubbing it in

I’m having a great time this summer trying out all kinds of different ways to grill and BBQ foods.
Earlier on I posted my secret rib recipe.
Well, I have another one now and the title of this post should give you a clue.
I finally decided to try ribs on my grill without precooking them and rubbing them instead. In doing so I discovered 2 things.
1. It’s easier
2. They taste even better
Granted, you have to like your grilled meats boldly flavoured and I’m not talking about just drowning then in some BBQ sauce or smoking them with some exotic or raunchy woods.

The other neat thing about rubbing your ribs is that there is really no wrong way to rub the ribs. Essentially you can just o through your pantry or cupboards and see what you’ve got that makes any sense. After that, and providing you have some stuff to play with, you can impart your ribs with a variety of flavours and call them “Cajun”, “South Western”, “Mediterranean”, “French Prevençal” or whatever depending on what you are going to mix up for the occasion.

Here is my ZenGourmand version:

Makes about 250ml (1 cup) which is enough to rub 2 rack of baby pork back ribs.
50 ml (4 tblsp) fresh rosemary leaves, ground up in a mortar (crushed if all you have is dry)
50 ml (4 tblsp) fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped (use dry if you don’t have fresh)
50 ml (4 tblsp) freshly cracked black pepper (use ground white if you want to be more French)
5 bay leaves, crumbled as fine as you have patience for
8-12 juniper berries* (this can be a challenge to get unless you pick them yourself or try your healthfood store)
25 ml (2 tblsp) ground cumin
25 ml (2 tblsp) salt

Now mix this all up thoroughly. If you are making this ahead of time, or if you are multiplying the recipe to last you all season, place the ingredients in a jar of appropriate size, close with a tight fitting lid, shake it well to thoroughl blend all the seasonongs and store at room temperature.

If you are going to do the ribs the same day, take your ribs and rub your creation onto them on both sides and on the ends, patting them to make the rub stick. Don’t be shy, use lots.

If you are in a hurry, you can proceed to grill your ribs right away but if you want a more sensational taste and have the time, place them in suitable dish, cover them with foil and “marinate” them in the fridge for 4 hour or more. Just remove them sufficiently ahead of time to let them come up to room temperature before tossing them on the grill.

So now we get to the grilling part.
Does your grill have a smoking chamber? Great. Soak a good load of your favorite wood chips (mesquite, hickory, chipotle), and load up the smoke chamber. Keep enough chips soaked and ready to toss in the smoker over the time it takes to cook the ribs, about 1.5 – 2 hours.
Fire up your grill full blast on the side with the smoker only. Get the smoke happening but then keep the grill at 180 C (350 F). Put the ribs on the grill and slowly cook for 1.5 – 2 hours depending on your grill. After about 30 minutes, start basting (mopping) them with a suitable and complimentary BBQ sauce (try to match the smoke and the sauce to the ingredients). For the ZenGourmand rub, use mesquite chips and a mesquite sauce or chipotle chips and chipotle sauce.
This accomplishes two things.
1) It prevents your ribs from drying out
2) It gives the an additional flavour attitude and a nice looking glaze

<>Don’t forget to turn the ribs once in a while and top up the smoker.
The ribs are ready whee they look read and the meat wiggles from the bone.


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Ribs on the BBQ – My secret recipe..

There are as many ways to do ribs on the grill as there are grills, I’m sure. Maybe you don’t need yet another recipe because yours is the all-time award winning recipe handed down from generation to rib eating generation.

Well, I’ve tried dozens of them and ended up cooking up my own secret recipe. Needless to say, the secret changes every time I make ribs on the BBQ, but the main theme stays the same.

Here goes…

Get yourself some ribs. Back, side, baby back, beef, frozen or not; whatever turns your crank. The recipe does 2 racks approximately, so adjust quantities to suit. Make sure the ribs are at room temperature when you start.

Preheat your stove or BBQ to 180 C (350 F).

While it’s heating up make up this fabulous marinade:

6 cloves garlick, smashed
2 small onions, minced and sauteed in butter
2 bay leaves, whole or crumbled
45 ml (1.5 oz) maple syrup
45 ml (1.5 oz) Ketchup
2 tblsp Worcestershire sauce
1 lime, juice only
3 tblsp red wine vinegar
150 ml (2/3 cup) Chipotle/Beer BBQ sauce
150 ml (2/3 cup) Beer, preferably dark
3 tblsp brown sugar
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, more if you like your ribs on fire
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper

Mix the whole thing up and baste your ribs with it on both sides.
Place the ribs bone up in a roasting pan or other fire proof dish just big enough to hold them.
Pour remaining marinade over ribs and cover with aluminum foil.
Bake for 1 – 1.5 hrs. in the preheated oven or on the grill.

Once cooked, cool and remove from the marinade, retaining the marinade.

Now grill the ribs over medium heat or even indirect heat depending on the kind of grill you own, turning and basting the ribs a couple of times until done, about 20 minutes max. If you have a smoke box, by all means put it to good use as well.
While the ribs are on the BBQ make the dipping sauce by reducing the marinade in a small saucepan until it sticks to the back of a spoon.
Serve ribs and sauce with your favorite sides and enjoy with a decent glass of red or your favorite brew.


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