Classic Moroccan Harira—Tomato, Lentil and Chickpea Soup

​Harira is an authentic Moroccan soup made of tomato, lentils, and chickpeas, but also includes meat, making it a filling and satisfying dish. There are many variations, and recipes are often passed down from generation to generation. Some versions, such as this one, feature broken pieces of vermicelli and smen—a preserved butter with a Parmesan-like taste.

Harira recipes yield a delicious, hearty soup which can be served as a filling lunch or light supper. Although served year-round, it is particularly popular during Ramadan, when it is served to break the fast.

The recipe follows the pressure cooker method which speeds up the cooking. To adapt cooking times for traditionally simmering in a stockpot, follow the directions for the traditional stockpot method.

Before proceeding with the recipe, read the steps in advance for a simpler cooking process.

What You’ll Need:

1/2 pound meat (lamb, beef or chicken; uncooked, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cups water
2 to 3 tablespoons dried
lentils (picked over and washed)
3 tablespoons tomato paste (mixed evenly into 1 or 2 cups of water)
Optional: several soup bones

For the stock:
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon
turmeric (or 1/4 teaspoon yellow colorant)
1 bunch
cilantro ( finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup)
1 bunch fresh parsley (finely chopped to yield about 1/4 cup)
1 or 2 stalk celery (with leaves; finely chopped)
1 large onion (grated)
1 handful of
dried chickpeas (soaked and then peeled)
6 large tomatoes (about 2 pounds; peeled, seeded and pureed)

Optional:
smen
Optional: 2 to 3 tablespoons rice (uncooked; or uncooked broken vermicelli)

How to Make It:

Ahead of Time

Make sure you have all the ingredients. Before you begin cooking the soup:

Pick the parsley and cilantro leaves from their stems. Small pieces of stem are all right but discard long, thick pieces with no leaves. Wash the herbs, drain well, and finely chop them by hand or with a food processor.

Soak and skin the chickpeas. (You might want to soak them the night before you cook.)

Peel, seed and puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor. Or, stew the tomatoes and pass them through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin.
Pick through the lentils and wash them.

Assemble the remaining ingredients and follow the steps below.

Brown the Meat
Put the meat, soup bones and oil into a 6-quart or larger pressure cooker.
Over medium heat, cook the meat for a few minutes, stirring to brown all sides.

Make the Stock
Add the cilantro, parsley, celery, onion, chickpeas, smen (if using), spices and tomatoes. Stir in 3 cups of water.
Cover tightly, and heat over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and release the pressure.
Make the Soup

Add the lentils, tomato paste mixture, and 2 quarts of water to the stock.
Set aside (but don’t add yet) either the rice or vermicelli.
Cover the pot and heat the soup over high heat until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking.

If adding rice: Cook the soup on pressure for 30 minutes. Release the pressure, and add the rice. Cover, and cook with pressure for an additional 15 minutes.

If adding vermicelli: Cook the soup on pressure for 45 minutes. Release the pressure, and add the vermicelli. Simmer the soup, uncovered, for 5 to 10 minutes or until the vermicelli is plump and cooked.

Thicken the Soup

While the soup is cooking, make a (soup thickener) by mixing together the 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water. Set the mixture aside, and stir or whisk it occasionally. The flour will eventually blend with the water. If the mixture is not smooth when you’re ready to use it, pass it through a sieve to remove lumps.
Once the rice (or vermicelli) has cooked, taste the soup for seasoning. Add salt or pepper if desired.

Bring the soup to a full simmer. Slowly — and in a thin stream — pour in the flour mixture. Stir constantly and keep the soup simmering so the flour doesn’t stick to the bottom. You will notice the soup beginning to thicken when you’ve used approximately half the flour mixture. The thickness of harira is up to you. Some like to thicken the broth so that it achieves a cream-like consistency.

Simmer the thickened soup, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 10 minutes to cook off the taste of the flour. Remove the soup from the heat.
Tips for Making Harira

If the meat had a lot of fat, expect to see some foaming as you simmer the thickened soup. Skim off the foam and discard it.

As harira cools in the pot, it’s common for a skin to form. Simply stir to blend the skin back into the soup
A small wedge of lemon may be served as a garnish; its juice may be squeezed into the bowl of harira.

When reheating harira, don’t bring it to a boil. Heat over medium heat and stir frequently to avoid lentils sticking to the bottom.

Preparation Shortcut: Chop your cilantro, parsley, and celery together in a food processor or blender. Add the peeled and seeded tomatoes, and blend until well-pureed. Add the onion and process until the onion is reduced to small pieces. Proceed with making the stock.

Thickening with Egg: In place of flour and water, 2 or 3 beaten eggs may be used to thicken harira. (If desired, beat the eggs with 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice.) Add the eggs in a thin stream to the simmering soup, stirring constantly. You will see some cooked strands of eggs in the soup as it thickens.

Prep and Freeze: If you plan to cook harira frequently, it’s helpful to prep large amounts of key ingredients in advance. Soak and peel chickpeas and drain well before freezing. Chop an ample supply of parsley, cilantro, and celery; measure the mixed herbs by soup bowlfuls and freeze. Peel, seed, and stew tomatoes; puree and freeze in about 2-pound batches.

Traditional Stockpot Method

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, use a 6- or 8-quart stockpot. Follow the directions above, but adjust the cooking time as follows:

In Steps 3 and 4, partially cover the pot, bring to a simmer and cook for double the suggested pressure cooker times. Watch the level of the liquids, particularly in Step 3; you can add a little more water if you feel it’s necessary.

Proceed with thickening the soup in Step 5 according to the recipe, or try the egg thickening method in the Tips above.
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving) Calories 199
Total Fat 11 g
Saturated Fat 3 g
Unsaturated Fat 6 g
Cholesterol 27 mg
Sodium 927 mg
Carbohydrates 15 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Protein 11 g

(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

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Easy Classic Elderflower Cordial Recipe

One of the most refreshing drinks for the summer is an elderflower cordial. This recipe is quick, easy to make, and a great excuse for a long walk collecting flowers.
The elderflower season is short—late May to mid-July if you live in the north or in Scotland. The heavily scented flowers make a wonderful, refreshing drink which, when stored in sterilized bottles will keep for several weeks.
A word of warning—if you are out collecting elderflowers, make sure you have permission to pick them and never pick flowers from trees on roadsides as they may be tainted with gas fumes.
Although the cordial does make a refreshing drink, it also is useful in many other recipes too.What

You’ll Need:

2.25 pounds/1 k sugar
6 cups/1.5 liters boiling water
4 medium lemons (washed)
2 ounces/55 g citric acid (available over the counter at any pharmacy)
30 large elderflower heads (shake to remove any insects)

How to Make It:

Place the sugar in a large saucepan/stockpot or a large Pyrex bowl. Pour the boiling water over and stir until all the sugar has dissolved and let cool.

Grate the rind of the lemons with a fine grater and add to the sugar water.

Slice the lemons into thick slices and add to the water.

Add the citric acid and stir.

Finally, add the flower heads to the water and stir again.

Cover with a clean cloth and leave to steep for 48 hours.

Strain through a clean fine muslin cloth into a clean bowl.

Using a funnel, fill sterilized glass bottles (see note below). Seal and store in a cool, dark place (not the refrigerator) for a few weeks or process in a water bath to preserve for longer storage. Another option is to freeze in plastic bottles.

Once you open a bottle, it must be stored in the refrigerator.

Note: The cordial is delicious diluted with still or fizzy water or used as a flavoring in ice creams, fruit fools (puréed fruit mixed with whipped cream), and other recipes.
How to Sterilize the Bottles

To sterilize the glass bottles, rinse in the dishwasher, or place in a medium hot oven (300 F/150 C) until the bottles are warmed through but not red-hot. Handle with care.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)Calories 135
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Carbohydrates 35 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 0 g

(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

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Make Moo Shu Pork at Home

This is the famous northern Chinese dish, served with mandarin pancakes and hoisin sauce.

What You’ll Need:

1/2 pound pork tenderloin

Marinade:
2 teaspoons
dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shao-Hsing rice wine (or dry sherry)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Sauce:
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons chicken broth (low-sodium)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Shao-Hsing wine (or dry sherry)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Other:
4 dried black mushrooms
4 tablespoons dried cloud ears (or wood ears)
2 tablespoons dried lily buds
1/2 cup canned bamboo shoots
2 green onions
2 slices ginger
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
1 teaspoon sesame oil

How to Make It:

1. Cut the pork into thin strips. Add the marinade ingredients, adding the cornstarch last. Marinate the pork for 30 minutes.

2. Mix the sauce ingredients, whisking in the cornstarch last. Set aside.

3. Place the dried mushrooms, cloud ears or wood ears, and lily buds in separate bowls and soak for approximately 30 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water. Remove the stems from the black mushroomsand the hard tips from the lily buds.

Cut into thin strips.

4. Rinse the bamboo shoots under warm running water to remove any tinny taste. Drain and cut into thin strips. Clean the green onion and cut into thirds. Cut the ginger into thin strips.

5. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt.

6. Heat the wok over medium-high to high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, swirling along the sides. When the oil is hot, add beaten eggs and scramble until they are quite firm. Remove the eggs from the wok. Clean out the wok.

7. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger and stir-fry until aromatic (about 30 seconds). Stir-fry until the pork changes color and is nearly cooked through. Remove from the wok.

8. Add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the wood ears, lily buds, and mushrooms. Stir-fry for about 1 minute. Push up to the sides. Give the sauce a quick re-stir and add in the middle of the wok, stirring quickly to thicken. Add the other pork and scrambled egg back into the pan. Stir in the green onion. Mix everything together. Taste and add extra seasoning if desired. Remove from the heat and stir in the sesame oil.

To Serve: serve with mandarin crepes and hoisin sauce. Place pancake on a plate and brush with hoisin sauce. Add meat mixture and roll up the pancake. *If desired, instead of stir-frying the green onion you can add it to the meat mixture at this point.

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A Simple Recipe for West Lake Beef Soup

If you’ve never made Chinese west lake beef soup before, this easy-to-follow recipe will serve you well. Making homemade soup allows you to cut out some of the harmful ingredients used in restaurants, such as salt and MSG. You can also tweak the ingredients to your liking. For example, instead of garnishing the soup with green onions, feel free to stir in fresh coriander leaves (cilantro) to taste. If you’re congested, have the sniffles or are generally feeling rundown, soup is a great pick-me-up. The broth can combat congestion, and if you have a cold or flu, it can help you stay hydrated. Try adding a dash of hot sauce to your cup, as the kick can do wonders for a stuffy nose.

What You’ll Need:

2/3 cup lean ground beef
Seasonings for Beef:

1 tbsp. light soy sauce
1 tbsp.

Chinese rice wine (or dry sherry)

1 tbsp. water
3-6 drops sesame oil
2 tsp. cornstarch
4-5 cups chicken stock
1 tsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper (or to taste)
Salt to taste
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 1/3 cup water (optional)
2 eggs or egg whites (lightly beaten)
2 green onions (green parts only, washed, drained and cut into 1-inch pieces)

How to Make It:

In a medium bowl, add the seasonings to the ground beef, adding the cornstarch last (use your fingers to mix the cornstarch). Get the leanest cut of ground beef available at your supermarket to avoid eating extra fat.
Marinate the ground beef for 15 minutes.
While the beef is marinating, bring the chicken stock or broth to a boil. Buy a low-sodium broth if you have hypertension or a similar health problem.
Stir in the marinated ground beef, using chopsticksto break up any lumps. Look for chopsticks in your supermarket if you don’t have any. You may need to visit a Chinese market or order them online if you can’t find chopsticks locally. Add the sugar and pepper.

Bring the soup back to a boil and turn down the heat. Then simmer for a few minutes to allow the ground beef to cook. Taste and add extra salt, if needed. Garlic powder is a great substitute for salt if you want more flavor but less sodium.

If desired, add the extra 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with water and stir to thicken.
Very slowly pour in the egg whites in a steady stream.
Use a fork to gently stir the eggs in a clockwise direction until they form thin streams or ribbons.
Garnish with green onion and serve.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)Calories 481
Total Fat 45 g
Saturated Fat 7 g
Unsaturated Fat 18 g
Cholesterol 5 mg
Sodium 752 mg
Carbohydrates 13 g
Dietary Fiber 0 g
Protein 8 g

(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

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Quick and Easy Blood Orange Panna Cotta

Panna cotta is a classic Italian dish, but now so popular, it is eaten and appreciated everywhere. The translation of the name is cooked (cotta) cream (panna). The classic Italian panna cotta is normally flavored only with vanilla and served with fresh summer fruits. Rarely will you find it with added flavorings, but don’t let that stop you. In this recipe, the fragrant tang, taste, and fabulous color of blood oranges shine brightly with the cooked cream. Blood oranges are available December through to May, so make the most of them while you can.

The traditional Italian panna cotta is such a lovely, simple, and easy to make dessert requiring only a few ingredients of cream, sugar, gelatin, and flavoring. From the classic dish with just a touch of vanilla, the luscious, silky cream is open to many lovely flavors restricted only by your imagination. No wonder this dessert is so loved. With its simplicity and versatility to make, it is a showstopper for a dinner party or at a family supper.

What You’ll Need:

2 teaspoon
powdered gelatin leaf (10 grams)
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 ounce caster sugar
1 small
blood orange (juiced and zested)

How to Make It:

When using the gelatin leaf (preferably) soak the leaves in a little cold water for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of the panna cotta. Follow the packet instruction if using powdered gelatin.

Place the cream into a medium-sized saucepan, add the sugar and, over a low heat, stir gently until the sugar has dissolved. Add the blood orange zest and all but 2 teaspoons of the juice.

Stir gently without making too many bubbles; you are aiming to create a smooth-textured panna cotta, not an airy mousse.

Lift the gelatin leaves from the water and give them a good squeeze to remove as much of the water as possible. Add the gelatin to the warmed cream and stir gently again until dissolved.

Divide the cooked cream evenly between 6 ramekins. Take the remaining blood orange juice, tip a tiny amount into each ramekin and using a toothpick or fine skewer, stir ever so carefully to swish the pink juice through the cream.

Pop the ramekins into the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight) until set.

To remove from the ramekins briefly dip the ramekin into a bowl of boiling water, taking care not to get the water into the panna cotta. Remove immediately and invert onto your serving plate. Serve topped with a few pieces of blood orange.

Notes on Making a Panna cotta:

Panna cotta is set using gelatin, which you should always approach with a little caution as too much, and the dessert becomes rubber-like instead of a gentle wobbly set known in chef circles as the panna cotta wobble.

The Panna cotta can be made a day before they are needed (no longer than that, as they begin to taste stale) as long as they are covered and stored in the fridge, making them an excellent dessert for a dinner party, or a simple mid-week supper. A truly versatile dish in our opinion.

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Moroccan Tagine of Lamb or Beef With Prunes

Beef or lamb with prunes is a classic sweet and savory Moroccan dish that combines dried prunes and meat with the fragrant spices of ginger, saffron, cinnamon, and pepper. It’s popular as a traditional offering at holiday gatherings, weddings, and other special occasions.

Of course, no special occasion is needed in order for a tagine of lamb with prunes to appear on the table. Prep work is minimal, making it a perfect choice for casual family meals. Although the use of a clay or ceramic tagine is most traditional, most Moroccan cooks prepare this dish in a pressure cooker as it speeds things up. Tender cuts of meat (some pieces on the bone) will give the best results.

The cooking time listed below is for the pressure cooker method. Double or triple this time if using a conventional pot or tagine. Note that the onion preparation is different for the tagine method.

What You’ll Need:

2 pounds tender beef or lamb (cut into three-inch pieces)
2 medium onions (grated or very finely chopped)
3 cloves garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon
Saffron threads (crumbled)
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
One or two 3-inch to 4-inch pieces of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups water
Handful of cilantro sprigs (tied together)
1/2 pound prunes
1 tablespoon honey
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
Handful of​
fried almonds (optional)

How to Make It:

Cook the Meat
Pressure cooker or conventional pot methods:

In a bowl, mix the meat with the onions, garlic, and spices. Heat the oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat and brown the meat for a few minutes until a crust forms.

If using a pressure cooker, place the meat mixture in the pressure cooker and add 2 1/2 cups of water and the cilantro. Over high heat, bring the meat and liquids to a simmer.
Cover tightly and continue heating until pressure is achieved. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook with pressure for 45 to 50 minutes. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.) After the meat has cooked, release the pressure and reduce the sauce, uncovered, until it is mostly oil and onion.

If using a conventional pot, add the meat mixture to the pot along with the 2 1/2 cups water and cilantro. Cover and simmer the meat over medium heat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender and breaks away easily from the bone. (Note: About halfway through cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.) If necessary, add a small amount of water during cooking to prevent the meat from scorching. When the meat has cooked, reduce the sauce until it is mostly oil and onions.

Clay or ceramic tagine method:

Slice one of the onions instead of grating it, and layer the onion rings on the bottom of the tagine.

Mix the meat with the grated onion, garlic, oil, butter and spices, and place on the sliced onion. Add 2 1/2 cups water, cover, and place the tagine on a diffuser over medium heat. Allow the tagine to reach a simmer (this may take a long time), and then reduce the heat to the lowest temperature necessary to maintain the simmer.

Allow the tagine to cook for 3 hours or longer until the meat is very tender and the liquids are reduced. (Note: About 2 hours into the cooking, remove 1/2 cup of the liquid and reserve.)

Cook the Prunes

While the meat is cooking, put the prunes in a small pot and cover with water. Simmer over medium heat, partially covered, until the prunes are tender enough to easily pinch off the pit or pinch in half. (The amount of time this takes can vary greatly depending on the prunes, but the average is 15 to 30 minutes.)
Drain the prunes, then add the 1/2 cup of reserved liquid from the meat. Stir in the honey, and cinnamon, and simmer the prunes for another 5 to 10 minutes, or until they are sitting in a thick syrup.

To Serve

Arrange the meat on a large serving platter and spoon the prunes and syrup on top. If you’ve cooked in a tagine, it doubles as a serving dish.

If desired, garnish with sesame seeds and/or fried almonds. Moroccan tradition is to gather around the table and eat from this communal plate, using Moroccan bread to scoop up the meat and sauce.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)Calories 753
Total Fat 48 g
Saturated Fat 19 g
Unsaturated Fat 22 g
Cholesterol 162 mg
Sodium 124 mg
Carbohydrates 43 g
Dietary Fiber 4 g
Protein 40 g

(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

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Spanish Ham Croquettes (Croquetas de Jamón)

Every Spaniard promises that their mother makes the best ham croquettes. These creamy fritters are a staple of the Spanish tapas scene, and you’ll find them on offer throughout the country. Luckily, they’re easy enough to make at home too.

Croquetas de jamón (cured ham croquettes) are small, lightly breaded and fried bechamel fritters that include delicious Spanish cured ham. They are a sure hit as an appetizer or an afternoon snack with a glass of beer or wine. The best part is you can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it. Then, take the croquette dough out of the freezer, coat small fritters in breadcrumbs and pop them into the frying pan. If you have enough freezer space you can even freeze fully breaded and ready croquettes– then you just have to fry!

What You’ll Need:

1/2 cup / 100 milliliters chicken broth
8 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup / 107 grams flour
1 1/2 cups / 350 milliliters milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Dash of ground pepper
1/2 cup ham (very finely hand-minced, so it can be mixed thoroughly with the dough)
2 eggs (lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water)
1 cup
breadcrumbs for coating
1​ bottle
Spanish olive oil for frying

How to Make It:

Heat the 8 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk and the chicken broth, stirring without stopping. This can take up to 30 minutes.

Next, add the nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sauce is thickened and smooth.

Add the minced ham and continue to cook for about 2 to 3 minutes on low heat, continuing to stir. Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and refrigerate at least 3 hours until mixture is cold. If you are preparing a day or so ahead, you can cover the mixture tightly and keep refrigerated until you are ready to fry the croquettes.

Pour the breadcrumbs into a small, wide bowl. Beat the eggs with water in a small, wide bowl. Cover your hands in flour, then divide the mixture into 1-inch balls and set on a plate, so that they are not touching.

Pour enough olive oil in a medium to a large frying pan to cover 1/2 inch deep. Heat the olive oil for frying to about 355 F degrees.

Dip the croquettes in the beaten egg and coat with crumbs by rolling in the bowl.

Place the croquettes in the hot oil and fry quickly, turning several times, until golden.

Remove the croquettes with a slotted spoon and set on a paper towel to absorb the excess oil.

Serve immediately. If croquettes will not be served immediately, place in a warm oven (200 F degrees) for up to 30 minutes.

Variation
If you want variety or simply do not eat ham, substitute 1/2 cup finely minced, cooked chicken for the ham.


Tips:

If the mixture is spread out in a thin layer on a flat dish, you will need to refrigerate it for less time. A large glass baking dish works well.

If you prefer, you can use a deep fryer to fry the croquettes. Be sure not to over-cook them.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)Calories 668
Total Fat 60 g
Saturated Fat 9 g
Unsaturated Fat 41 g
Cholesterol 9 mg
Sodium 526 mg
Carbohydrates 27 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 8 g

(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)

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