Book Review: Maggie Beer's Summer Harvest

Maggie truly comes alive in her latest book, Summer Harvest, a re-released paperback edition of her landmark book “Maggie’s Harvest.” Maggie’s philosophy of using fresh, seasonal produce from the Barossa Valley is evident in over 100 of her signature Summer recipes with detailed descriptions of her most favoured ingredients as well as light-hearted accounts of memorable summer night meals. 

Beginning with Maggie’s passion for food she remarks that food has given her so much in life – “a sense of purpose, a delicious anticipation of each new day and gifts of a much deeper kind than financial.” Self-described as a country cook, Maggie’s love for the home she has made in Adelaide truly shines through on each page where she welcomes all home cooks to splatter her recipe pages with passion as they cook up a storm for their families.

The contents of Summer Harvest is sectioned around ingredients, from anchovies, to capers, cherries, nectarines, rock lobsters and yabbies with a special section dedicated to the most popular event of the Summer season: Christmas. Simplicity is the key to most of Maggie’s recipes, allowing natural flavours to permeate the dishes such as chicken with rosemary, pine nuts and verjuice and sweet recipes such as hazelnut cake with fresh raspberries.

 Cherry Clafoutis, p. 42&47.

As holiday season approaches, delve into Maggie’s cherry section where all your sweet tooth cravings are fulfilled. This section teaches you how to make the best decision when purchasing hand-picked cherries, as you will get what you pay for and in some instances dried cherries can be called upon if you’re not quick enough during their short season. Enjoy Maggie’s Cherry Clafoutis, where she takes advantage of freshly picked cherries to make a delicious tart perfect for the Christmas table. Maggie prefers to not pit cherries for this tart as the stone helps to keep the shape and flavour of the fruit, however, if this makes you nervous remove them and just be prepared that the cherries may lose their shape.

Moving from cherries to tomatoes, indulge in vine-ripened tomatoes (Maggie’s preferred tomatoes which come from her garden) and delve into cooking your own tomato sauce for pasta dishes. Maggie shares her ultimate tomato sauce recipe which we have for you here; it’s a delicious mix of very ripe tomatoes, carrot, celery, verjuice and basil (tomatoes companion in life). 

Summer Harvest is the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one this Christmas, full of down to earth recipes that anyone can enjoy. 

Extract from Maggie Beer’s Summer Harvest Recipes by Maggie Beer, photography by Mark Chew, published by Lantern on 18 November 2015, RRP AU$29.99 you can purchase it here

Tantalising Thai Sweets

Thailand is a medley of cultural experiences that attract not only many Australians but tourists from around the world. Whether it is an elephant trek through the jungle admiring bird-sized butterflies and multi-coloured spiders or bucket list items such as a speed boat out to Phi Phi Island or kayaking through a cave to a hidden island, Thailand has something to please even the fussiest traveller. Reminisce on refreshing coconut water straight from the nut and strange concoctions mixed from vendors on the street with our favourite Thai treats. 


1) Mango and Coconut Sticky Rice Pudding

Popular in restaurants and eateries across the country, this mango and coconut dessert makes the most of Thailand’s delicious produce. If juicy mangoes are out of season, substitute the mango puree and slices with banana, pineapple or any other of your favourite tropical fruits.

2) Thai Tea

Thai Tea is popular and commonly drunk in Thailand, both hot and cold, with variations of spices in the mix. Typically, it's made with Ceylon or black tea and flavoured with spices like star anise, cloves and tamarind. Almost always it's topped with sweetened condensed milk and will often have boba tapioca pearls in it.

3) Coconut Ice-cream

A perfect treat to enjoy after a spicy Thai green curry; grab some extra coconut milk and make this delicious coconut ice-cream dessert at home. This dessert is great to cool you down on hot days or after a meal with a bit of heat, and is dairy free and completely vegan for those with dietary requirements. 

4) Pancakes

Paper thin pancakes, crepes, or sweet roti are commonly made by street vendors in popular Thai tourist destinations. All they need is a hot plate, a container of batter and a few popular toppings like banana, Nutella, honey, lemon and sugar and they’ll  be whipping these sweet breads up before your very eyes, at all hours of the day and night.

5) Tab Tim Grob

Also known as red rubies, these grapefruit looking balls in coconut milk are actually water chestnuts coloured red for aesthetic appeal. The coconut milk helps to soften the chestnuts and this makes for a refreshing dessert.

6) Baked Coconut Rice Pudding 

Finish off a feast in traditional Thai style with a sweet rice pudding, or eat it for breakfast! Though this may seem similar to the mango and coconut pudding, this dish is also flexible, so that it can be served hot, warm or cold - the decision is up to you.  

Compiled by Julie Johnson. 

Classic Thai Dishes You Know and Love

It’s no doubt that Australians love travelling to Thailand – it has been a popular tourist destination for many years now and you likely know someone who has been, if not you yourself. A hint towards cruisy days relaxing on sandy Thai beaches, warm sunshine caressing your skin and an array of unique cultural experiences at your fingertips will surely bring happy memories to the forefront of your mind. Remember these special moments, family adventures and celebrations with friends and embrace Thai culture with your own Thai dishes at home. Experience the flavours of tantalising dishes once again with our recipes below, from the classic Pad Thai to skilful culinary delights such as the Asian Eggnet, delicately crafted by Longrain restaurant in Sydney. 


1) Som Tam Green Papaya and Mango Salad

This spicy papaya salad originates in the northeast regions of Thailand, but it's reached near-cult status throughout the rest of the country. The common ingredient is the green papaya which lends a subtle, sweet flavour while the seeds can be ground down and used like pepper. Different regions have slight variations on this recipe, some offer sweeter flavours and some adopt a sour tang. Try out this recipe for yourself and adjust the ingredients to your liking. It makes a great side salad to a sticky marinated chicken.

2) Asian Eggnet

Break through the eggnet and find a catch of pork and prawns below, mixed with peanuts and caramelised coconut and served with a cucumber relish. If you cannot experience this dish made by the expert chefs at Longrain, be sure to try it yourself at home. Fresh, crisp and crunchy mixed with tender meats; this dish can be placed in the middle of the table and shared, with guests heaping spoonfuls onto their plate as a great side and accompaniment to larger mains.

3) Penang Duck Curry

Highlighted with the smooth flavour of caramelised pumpkin, this dish traditionally takes on strong influences from Indian curries. It offers vibrancy to the dinner table, with bright red in colour and a thicker gravy sauce consistency from the ground down peanuts.

4) Oven Baked Thai Style Whole Bream

Enjoy the catch yourself, prepare it and eat it fresh. In many Thai restaurants, fish are served whole, marinated in herbs and spices and served topped with chopped vegetables. Share this dish between you and those who love their fresh, tender fish flesh.

5) Pad Thai

Hardly requiring an introduction, if you are yet to try Pad Thai, do so tonight!  There are many variations to the traditional Pad Thai, and all are likely to be delicious. Give our recipe a go and be sure to try this one out on the kids. The noodles are fun and the other ingredients combine to make tangy zesty flavours that make for an exciting mid-week dinner without breaking the budget. Let kids add on their own finishing touches of fish sauce, sugar and crushed peanuts to suit their tastes and sprinkle a little chilli powder on your own bowl.

6) Thai Green Chicken Curry 

This spicy, exciting dish adopts a green colour from the curry pastes’ green chillies. The coconut milk helps to cool it a little, and together with the colour, distinguishes it completely from Indian curries that may have similar components. Have a go at making your own Thai green curry paste and be sure to pair it with plenty rice if you aren’t used to eating spicy chillies.  

Compiled by Julie Johnson. 

Heavenly Dishes from Thailand

Thailand's National Day and the celebration of His Majesty The King's birthday both land on December 5th in a charming display of food, fun and festivities, so let's get celebrating.  

Thailand is a country of endless summers and a shared food culture.  Tourists are regularly captivated by charming ancient cities, glorious sunkissed beaches and memorable floating market places, as in  showing a bygone way of life.   

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, photo: Xiquin Ho

Be it for elephant trekking or experiential dining, holidaying in Thailand for Christmas would be the perfect destination, but if you can't make it why not enjoy the tastes of Thailand throughout Australia with our restaurant guide? Don't fret you'll be looking at recommended restaurants by AGFG and other readers.  

Coconut Curry with Tofu. 

For those looking for the simplicity of Thai food in their very own kitchen the AGFG recipe section is full of tasty ideas inspired by Thailand. Take Pad Thai by Chill on Tedder or Coconut Curry with Tofu by Amanda Battley. Light meal starters like Thai Pumpkin Soup with coriander stand out while this Oven Baked Fish recipe is a zestful dish. 

Give into your sweet temptations and enjoy a Mango and Coconut Rice Pudding, with fresh tropical fruit on the side. 

A Very Special Christmas Red

By David Ellis from vintnews.

If you are having an extra-special Christmas this year and looking for an extra-special wine for just the two of you, give real consideration to Margan Wines’ recently released 2011 Aged Release Shiraz.

At $100 a bottle this is a unique wine you’ll find is just the drop for a unique-occasion Christmas, especially if turkey is at the centre of the table. Andrew Margan created it using grapes from 40 year old Hunter Valley vines that yielded just a half tonne per acre of intensely flavour-concentrated fruit when picked at full ripeness.

After fermentation it was given 20 months in new French oak barriques, then bottled and aged for four years in Margan’s own cellars under Andrew’s care.

A beautiful dark purple in colour, this one screams classic Hunter Shiraz, with aromas of white pepper, ripe dark berry fruit, tar, a hint of cigar box and lovely follow-through flavours. And while Ideal for that special-occasion Christmas lunch or dinner turkey this year, it’ll also mature beautifully over the next couple of decades for even greater enjoyment at Christmases or other special dining events down the line.

One to note: Peter Logan at Logan Wines at Orange in the NSW Central West has long displayed a dogged commitment to evolve and improve his Logan Vintage ‘M’ Cuvee that’s named in memory of his late father, Malcolm – a great fan and devotee of premium sparkling wine.

Made in the traditional Champagne method, Peter’s latest release is from the 2012 vintage and is interesting in that he’s broken away from a usual practice of close to equal parts of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. For this one he’s opted instead for a whopping 79% Chardonnay, 11% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier , all off 18 year old vines growing in rich, deep volcanic soils on the north-facing slopes of the local Mount Canobolas.

Crisp and dry with flavours of lemon, wild strawberry, almond and a salty minerality, this 2012 Logan Vintage ‘M’ Cuvee is a great drop at $35 and perfect to pop at New Year’s Eve. 

Book Review: Luke Nguyen's France

Join Luke Nyugen on a gastronomic adventure through France, discovering the magical elements of the culture, food and its people, from the bustling streets of Paris all the way to the Southern coastal city Marseille, and everywhere in between in his latest cookbook, France. 


One of Australia’s most highly regarded Chefs, Luke Nguyen owns Sydney’s acclaimed Red Lantern restaurant and regularly presents television shows on SBS, the latest, a culinary journey through this European nation, rich in history and signature flavours.

Hand in hand with his latest television show, Luke connects the dots between a an unlikely pairing of Vietnamese and French cuisines, evident in recipes such as his Vietnamese Pork Omelette, that at first glance, can seem as far removed from one another as they are in distance. Backed by a lifetime of knowledge based on Asian gastronomy, Luke travels to France to extend his understanding of the culinary history and relationship they share, with the help of his long-distance relatives. 

Scotch Fillet with Okra and Red Asian Shallot Butter, p. 200. 

Sharing kitchen bench space beside his cousins in their very own Parisian restaurants lights Luke’s initial spark to discover more about what connects these two cultures. For those who enjoy tangy Asian dishes, France is sure to give a greater depth of understanding to some of the most loved Vietnamese meals, while those who gravitate towards European classics may find inspiration to dazzle up a dish. You may prefer Escargot with a little lemongrass, lime and basil, or perhaps a tender Scotch Fillet with okra and red Asian shallot butter. So how exactly have these two unusually linked cuisines influenced one another? Choosing prominent regions like Nice, and popular foodie hotspots like Lyon, Luke attempts to piece together a puzzle of extraordinary foods. 

Grow closer to the intricacies of what makes French food one of the most loved cuisines worldwide, and how the classics remain favourites, standing the test of time to grace our most successful restaurants today and learn to re-create them at home. Add a dash of energetic, ever-evolving Vietnamese culture and you have yourself a feast of tantalizing, though unexpected flavour combinations.

As much of a cookbook as it is a food diary of a journey through a beautiful country, France is nothing less than an adventurous treasure hunt, jumping from the pages with warm photography of Luke and his family, charming French architecture, the flourishing countryside landscapes and of course the delicious dishes paired with recipes and Luke’s commentary to help those ready to give it a go for themselves. Pick up a copy for yourself.  

By Julie Johnson. 

Recipes and Images from France by Luke Nguyen, Published by SBS $59.95 and is available from signed. 

The Right Whites for Succulent Seafood

Summer and seafood go hand-in-hand, but to really make the most of fresh seafood while it’s here in abundance, spare a hand for a glass of white wine. Feeling a little apprehensive and worried you might get the flavours completely wrong? Check out our pairings below and if you wish, use it as a general guide for your own dishes, or try out our recipes linked below in the seafood category and find the bottle of wine through the winery link. Experiment with what flavours suit your palate best, as everyone is going to enjoy something slightly different, and be sure to pace yourself by drinking water too.

Wine: Sparkling Chardonnay

Seafood: Oysters, Abalone, Lobster, Prawns

Winery: Passing Clouds, Daylesford, VIC

Have your guests throwing back oysters with a glass of Passing Clouds’ Sparkling Chardonnay NV, made from handpicked, hand processed grapes, offering bright aromas of candied citrus and lemon peel with a touch of flint and toast lead to the palate. Grown near Daylesford in the Macedon Ranges, these grapes grow well on the cold climate estate. 

Wine: Riesling

Seafood: Hiramasa Kingfish, Baby Marron 

Winery: Woodstock Wine Estate, McLaren Flat, SA

For a drop with these mouth-watering plates, perhaps try the 2012 Woodstock ‘Mary McTaggart’ Riesling, providing floral perfumes with citrus blossom aromas on the palate with a crisp acidity and a long, lingering finish. These grapes were grown in a small, north-facing vineyard up on high sandy slopes, soothed and kept cool by sea and gully breezes through summer.

Wine: Pinot Gris

Seafood: Sashimi, Kerala Prawn Curry

Winery: Howard Vineyard, Nairne, SA

Find Howard Vineyard’s Clover 2015 Pinot Gris with fruits grown in the Adelaide Hills, harvested in the middle of the night from Block K at Schoenthal.  These grapes grow 450m above sea level for a cold, long ripening period and consistent quality. Taste flavours of Granny Smith apples, Nashi pears and a touch of white pepper.

Wine: Pinot Grigio

Seafood: Asian Crab Cakes , Calamari

Winery: Sam Miranda, King Valley, VIC

Pair crab cakes, calamari and Asian inspired dishes with Sam Miranda 2014 Pinot Grigio for a true Grigio subtlety that is soft, yet crunchy and crisp. Scoring 90 points from James Halliday, this Pinot Grigio won the bronze medal for 2014 in the North East Victorian Wine Challenge. 

Wine: Verdelho

Seafood: Smoked Trout Salad

Winery: Sirromet, Mount Cotton, QLD

Pair the smokiness in the trout with a fresh, crisp salad with Sirromet’s Grand Reserve 2013 Verdelho Blanc, pale lime green in colour with aromas of tropical fruits, green apple, citrus and lychees. The grapes for the 2013 Verdelho Blanc were grown exclusively in the Cat and Fiddle Block within the Night Sky Vineyard located in the Granite Belt. 

Wine: Semillon

Seafood: Blue Eye Cod, Fish and Chips

Winery: Audrey Wilkinson, Pokolbin, NSW

Pair fillets of fish with Audrey Wilkinson Reserve Range The Ridge Semillon 2012 with lifted grassy aromas of limes and lemons while a palate of fresh lemon sherbet flavours hits with hints of kaffir lime. A cool spring, followed by cooler than average summer temperatures on the Ridge Block in the Hunter Valley resulted in wines with lower alcohol and great natural acidity.

Wine: Semillon Sauvignon Blanc

Seafood: Fish and Prawn Cakes seafood salad, crab cakes, freshly peeled prawns

Winery: Levantine Hill , Coldstream, VIC

Try Levantine Hill’s Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2014 from the Yarra Valley when munching on fish cakes and freshly peeled prawns and enjoy pronounced characteristics of pear skin, lychee, preserved lemon and cardamom. All the fruits for this wine were hand harvested in small parcels when perfectly ripe, hand sorted and hand plunged with care.

Wine: Sauvignon Blanc

Seafood: Grilled Prawns, Scallops, Barbecued Salmon  

Winery: Bay of Fires, Pipers River, TAS 

Hands are on bottles of Bay of Fires Sauvignon Blanc, with the 2014 harvest winning five gold trophies from the Decanter Wild Wine Awards above many of France’s best. Taste notes of exotic fruits with delicate hints of flint and fresh herbs, while palate characters of guava and passionfruit follow. The grapes were grown in Tasmania’s Coal River Valley and the Derwent Valley and careful monitoring of water throughout a dryer than usual summer resulted in this revered drop.

By Julie Johnson. 

Our Favourite Seafood Dishes

Be inspired by our list of succulent seafood sensations below and try them out during the warmer months of silly season. Summer is a great time to enjoy what the ocean has to offer, whether you absolutely love sashimi, or much prefer the simplicity of throwing a skewer of prawns on the barbie! Serve these dishes at your next weekend gathering, lunchtime soiree, Christmas Day or to bring in the New Year with chilled white wine, your favourite light beers or a curious cocktail concoction.

1. Fish, Chips and Minty Mushy Peas

What is summer without classic fish and chips? Taking inspiration from our British motherland, try out this recipe with a minty mushy pea accompaniment to your favourite summertime dinner. Wrap them in butcher’s paper and take it down to your local beach.

2. Fish Tacos

Still a popular dinner option for hot summer nights, try out this fishy twist on tasty tacos, with the fresh, zesty flavours of lime and coriander and a hint of chilli spice to add a little excitement to this week’s meal plan.

3. Baked Seafood Balls

Easy to make, fragrant and recommended by Matteo Bruno, these baked seafood balls offer a delicate alternative to thick fish fillets to have you consuming your Omegas.  

4. BBQ Prawn Skewers and Salsa Verde

A perfect idea for summer barbecues and a great addition to classic chicken skewers, steaks and sausages, these BBQ prawn skewers are best enjoyed with a cold beer from the esky.

5. Chilli Tuna Pasta Bake

This mouth-watering meal is great for those with tight schedules. Make this chilli tuna pasta bake in a big batch and enjoy easy lunches and dinners without the hassle. That gives you more time for enjoying the beach, after-dinner bike rides and long walks at sunset.

6. Encornets Farcis (Stuffed Squid)

Re-create a French delight to impress your summertime guests. Stuffed squid cones are also a great way to feed hungry cocktail party guests without the mess and hassle.

7. Hervey Bay Scallops with Cucumber, Yoghurt, Avocado and Ink Crackers 

Save this special dish for a romantic summer evening and go all out to treat your loved one. Try out your own artistic flair with plating and be sure to use the freshest produce you can source for a more vibrant look once it’s finished. It’s sure to have you in the good books for a while!

8. Seared Tuna and Chickpea Salad 

For the real seafood lovers, try this seared tuna dish on a tasty chickpea salad. Be sure to source fresh fish to minimise any overly pungent aromas. 

9. Chilli Blue Swimmer Crab 

If crustaceans are your preferred choice for seafood, don’t go past this tastebud tingling recipe for crab. Warning; this dish can get a little messy, so don your smock and be prepared to dive right in.

Book Review: A Simple Table by Michele Cranston

A wholesome cookbook bursting with the love surrounding family-created recipes, Michele Cranston, current Food Editor at large at the Australian Women’s Weekly brings A Simple Table to the everyday cook, adding to her well-received repertoire of cookbooks in the bestselling Marie Claire series. 

Warmth emanates from the pages of Michele’s latest cookbook, providing the at-home family cook with more options for weekday dinners and large plates to satisfy the guests of weekend gatherings. The whole family is sure to lick their lips at the thought of meals inside and with supervision; even the children can have a go. Often it can be difficult to think of what to cook, night after night, but with a little help from Michele, the meals in your household are soon to consist of a diverse selection, yet remain consistently delicious.

A simple table provides healthy, wallet-friendly options that don’t require gastronomic expertise, and provides a great starting place for those intimidated by sharp knives, exposed flames and the thought of food poisoning. Gift this cookbook of staples to those starting an adventure and moving out of home for the first time so they can share mouth-watering meals and impress new housemates. For those confident enough in the kitchen and looking to explore a little flair, there are dishes catering for them too, like a roast of Duck Breast with Ginger Plums. Though roasted duck with near on perfect burnished skin may otherwise be a challenge to achieve, Michele simplifies it to work in the home kitchen using only the most succulent part of the duck, enhancing it with white pepper, five spice and other readily sourced ingredients.

Cinnamon and Cherry Olive Oil Cake, p. 228.

Sorted into categories, Michele has sectioned over 100 recipes into easy-to-understand chapters, making it a handy kitchen companion when lost for ideas or stuck in the same pattern of meals each week.  The Two Bowls chapter offers options for those at home alone, needing a nutritious meal that won’t leave a pile of dishes in its wake while ravenous families can flip to the One Pot chapter for all-in style meals that are sure to be devoured.  Should you have a little extra time on your hands to prepare, splash out with meals like the Moroccan Chicken Pies, however, even the chicken filling can be made ahead of time so the restrictions of a tight schedule won’t stop one from delving into a delicious dinner. Not forgetting sweet toothed chefs, Michele has also dedicated pages towards the end for decadent treats and weekend delights to divide among dessert enthusiasts; think cinnamon and cherry olive oil cake, used for Christmas festivities, or to simply take advantage of flourishing seasonal pickings.

Overflowing with ideas for every occasion, based on the companions you’re with (or without) and the day of the week, everyone is sure to find meals worth holding onto.  Share these recipes with your friends and family, or keep them as your secret kitchen surprises.

By Julie Johnson.  

Recipes and images from A Simple Table by Michele Cranston published by Murdoch Books. 

Lebanese Fare

Historically, Lebanon was included in the greater region of Levant, which sees many culinary similarities shared between Middle Eastern and Mediterranean countries. Oftentimes, dishes will cross over from country to country, though subtle differences are still often present. Common to Lebanese cuisine is an abundance of starches, whole grains, fruits, vegetables and fresh seafood, as well as skewered and barbecued or charcoal grilled meats. Garlic and olive oil are used frequently and many dishes will be seasoned with lemon juice. If you have never had the chance to travel to Lebanon, or you have and wish to relive the delicate, tantalising flavours, simply take a look at the following recipes for inspiration and give them a go for yourself. 


1. Baba Ghanoush

A Levantine dish, baba ghanoush is traditionally made up of cooked eggplant mixed with onions, tomatoes, olive oil and various seasonings. Baba ghanoush makes for a great starter or dip to accompany light mains, served with crispy crackers or spread over flatbread.   

2. Cinnamon Marinated Quail

This aromatically flavoured quail may require a little more than your average kitchen skills, so be patient, taking time to carefully prepare it and you are sure to reap the rewards of your precision and dedication.

3. Lamb Shish Kebabs

Meats used for kebabs vary across the Middle East and are generally dependent on local tastes and any religious prohibitions. The traditional kebab meat in Lebanon is lamb, but it is not uncommon for beef, goat, chicken, pork and fish to also be used. Kebabs are now loved worldwide and no doubt you may have already tried them - now make them at home yourself with this great recipe.

4. Manakeesh with Za’atar

Historically, Lebanese females would bake dough similar to that of these mini flatbreads in a communal oven in the morning. This dough would then provide their family with daily bread, and they would prepare smaller portions of the dough with different toppings like Za’atar for meals throughout the day. Try out these mini herbed pizzas for a different starter snack or tapas at your next gathering.

5. Kibbeh

Kibbeh is the national dish of Lebanon, and is a combination of the freshest minced lamb and burghul (cracked wheat), with essential "seven spices" (baharat). Though we don’t recommend it, Kibbeh can be eaten raw and shares similarities to steak tartare. Another common form is kibbeh qrass, which is the recipe and method we have provided, for hollowed balls, stuffed with filling and fried. Give these tasty bites a go today!

6. Katayef 

Tough desserts aren’t a big part of Lebanese cuisine, they tend to prefer syrups and rosewater flavours, delicate parties and bread based treats.  Katayef are like small pancakes, only cooked on one side while the other remains silky, then they are folded and stuffed with ingredients like almonds, pistachios and cottage cheese. These would make a great snack for the kids, or adults with a craving for a sweet bite. 

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