Star Spangled Fourth of July Berry Tarts

Looking for a stunning dessert to top off your Fourth of July cookout? What could be more patriotic than these starry mini berry tarts?  Raspberries and blueberries bursting under flaky pastry and adorned with freshly whipped cream assure a grand finale to your celebration.

Equipment needed: six 5-inch tart pans with removable bottoms

6-inch round cookie cutter

1 ½-inch star-shaped cookie cutter

Fluted pastry wheel

Ingredients:

Tart dough  (Make two recipes; don’t double recipe):

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2  t salt

1 T sugar

8 oz. (one stick) unsalted butter, cut in 1 T pieces

4 oz. vegetable shortening, in 1 T pieces

1 yolk from an extra large egg

4 T ice water (approx.)

Raspberry filling

Mix together:

1 pint fresh raspberries

¼ cup sugar

2 T Chambord (raspberry liqueur) optional

2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 T cornstarch

Blueberry filling

Mix together:

1 pint fresh blueberries

¼ cup sugar

2 t freshly squeezed lemon juice

½ t ground cinnamon

1/8 t freshly ground nutmeg

2 T cornstarch

2 T butter

Milk for brushing tarts

Raw sugar for sprinkling tarts

Whipped cream

Procedure:

Place flour in the workbowl of a food processor with metal blade. Add salt and sugar and pulse to mix.  Add butter and vegetable shortening.  Mix using a few quick pulses.  You should still see bits of better and shortening.  Add egg yolk. Pulse again for one second.  Add 3 T ice water around top of dough. Pulse briefly.  Continue to add just enough water to allow dough to hold together when pressed between fingers.  This is the crucial step.  If the dough is too dry it will crumble when you try to roll it out.  If you add too much water, the baked crust will not be light and flaky.  You should still see tiny bits of butter.  Don’t let a ball form.

Dump dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap, form into a disk and refrigerate for an hour or more.

Roll out pastry dough, one disk at a time, to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut out six circles.  Press into tart pans and, using your thumb, press up against inside rims.  Place in refrigerator while proceeding.  Cut out the number of stars you want for decoration with the star-shaped cookie cutter.  These are baked separately from tarts. Brush with milk and sprinkle with raw sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.

Cut a few ½-inch strips of pastry dough with a fluted pastry wheel to use for decoration.

Take tart shells out of refrigerator and fill with berry fillings.  You can fill a shell with one filling  or two fillings side by side.  Dot with bits of butter.  Decorate half of tarts with pastry strips arranged in a parallel fashion.. Brush strips with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Set tart tins on an aluminum foil-covered cookie sheet and place in a 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes until crusts are lightly browned and berry filling is bubbling. Arrange the baked star cutouts decoratively on tarts. Remove tins. Top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, July 2010

Photos by Sweetpaprika

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Puff Pastry with Ham and Cheese

IMAG0542Need a wow of a brunch dish?  This is it!   Ham and cheese encased in crisp buttery puff pastry.  A tart salad alongside goes well.  And why not start with bellinis?

Ingredients

1 lb. puff pastry (See recipe in previous post.)

2 T Dijon mustard

¾ lb. good quality ham, cut into a ½-inch dice

½ lb. Gruyere cheese shredded on large holes of box grater

Egg wash made from I egg and 1 T water, beaten

Procedure

Cut 1 lb. piece of puff pastry in half.  Roll out to fit a 10 X 15 baking sheet. Place parchment paper or a silicone mat on the baking sheet. Transfer pastry sheet to baking sheet.  Spread mustard over sheet leaving a 1-inch border.  Evenly spread ham over mustard, also leaving 1-inch border.  Sprinkle cheese on top of ham.

Roll out the other piece of puff pastry to 10 X 15.  Place on top of cheese layer.  With a small sharp knife cut the edges straight.  Press indentations around the edge with the tines of the back of a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Take out pastry and brush with egg wash.  Cut a few decorative slits to allow steam to escape.  Place cold pastry in hot oven. This gives the pastry a sudden burst of heat giving it a good start to its rise.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  Let cool briefly.  Cut into squares and serve.  Makes 6 servings.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Rhubarb Is Here!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I see bins of bright pink spears of rhubarb and baskets of scarlet strawberries, I must sweep them up and make a pie.  I don’t know who first paired the flavors of strawberries and rhubarb, but it is a most compatible marriage.  The combination of sweet and tart works again and again.  If I had to name my favorite pie, this one would be in the forefront along with my “unsinkable apple pie”.

Ingredients

Two recipes for the pie dough in my peerless pumpkin pie recipe.(See Pages in right sidebar).  Refrigerate at least ½ hour.

4 cups fresh rhubarb, cleaned and sliced into ½ pieces

3 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ¼ cups sugar

½ t cinnamon

Zest from one orange

4 T instant tapioca

¼ t salt

2 T unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Glaze:

2 T milk

2 T raw sugar

Procedure

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry, leaving a ½-inch overhang.  Chill in refrigerator while making the filling.  Combine rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl.  Add sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, tapioca and salt. Shake and combine well to mix dry ingredients with fruit and let stand 15 minutes.

Roll out the top pastry to a 12-inch circle.  Important tip: drain excess liquid from pie filling.*  Pour filling into pastry shell and dot with butter.  Cover with top pastry folding top edge under bottom.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Make three cuts on top of pie to let out steam.  Place pie on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet and set on shelf in lower third of oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 for 35 to 40 minutes until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling up through cuts on top.  Let cool on a rack before serving.

This pie can be made with a lattice crust  See recipe for cherry pie with seasonal tart cherries ( Pages in right sidebar).

*Draining the liquid from the filling will assure a firm, not runny, filling after the pie is baked.

Blueberry Lattice Pie

Blueberry Pie, Food & Wine Section Dating Symbol blogNeed a luscious Easter dessert?  Something both sweet and tart with a light buttery undertone?  Think blueberries.  Available year round and often sporting a more than reasonable price.  And if that weren’t enough, blueberries have been found to be a “superfood”, so good for you that you should go out of you way to eat them.

And what could possibly be better than eating them out of hand?  How about a mouth-watering blueberry pie?  You may be picturing a pie with the juices running amuck or worse, a gluey texture.  Not to worry.   I think you’ll find this recipe to have the perfect texture with a combination of jammy and whole berries.  Enjoy!

Dough

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 t salt

2 T sugar

12 oz. unsalted cold butter cut into 1 T slices

4 T Crisco

¼ to ½ cup ice water

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in food processor until mixed.  Scatter butter over flour mixture and pulse briefly. Add Crisco and pulse again.  You should still see tiny bits of butter.  Pour ¼ cup ice water around bowl of processor. Pulse until dough holds together between thumb and forefinger.  Add more gradually, one tablespoon at a time, if necessary.    This is a key step. Dough should not look dry nor should it look wet.   Don’t let ball form.  Place dough on work surface, pat together and press outward with heel of hand to incorporate butter into flour.   Gather into a ball and divide in half.  Form into disks.  Wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

Line a large cookie sheet with aluminum foil to catch any filling that may bubble over.  Heat in a 400 degree oven while you’re making the filling.

Filling

4 pints fresh blueberries

1 cup sugar

1 t lemon zest

1 t fresh lemon juice

½ t ground cinnamon

¼ t freshly ground nutmeg

4 T tapioca flour (or cornstarch)

2 T unsalted butter cut into small cubes

Egg wash made with one egg beaten with a pinch of salt

1 t coarse sugar for finishing top of pie (optional)

Directions

Rinse and pick over blueberries.  Set aside 2 cups. Place remainder in a non-reactive saucepan along with sugar.  Cook over medium heat until the sugar melts and mixture is bubbling.  Stir and don’t allow mixture to stick to bottom of pan.  Add lemon zest, lemon juice, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and tapioca flour.  Continue stirring until mixture has thickened and is lightly bubbling.  Set aside to cool.

Roll out one disk of dough to fit into deep dish pie pan.  Trim overhang and place in freezer while you roll out the second disk of dough for the top.  Using a pastry cutter, cut strips of dough 1 inch wide.  Fold the 2 cups of whole berries and butter into blueberry mixture and fill bottom crust mounding in center.

Lightly moisten top edge of bottom crust with water.  Arrange strips of dough across top spacing about ¾ of an inch apart.  Then add strips at an angle across the first set.  Press onto bottom crust and trim overhang.  Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.  Place in oven on preheated baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then lower to 350 for 25 to 35 more or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbling.

Cool on a rack.  Serve with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.  Serves 8.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm

Food Stylist Brian Preston Campbell  http://www.preston-campbell.com

It’s Pie Heaven!

Pecan Pie

Would Thanksgiving be complete without the traditional pies–pumpkin, apple and, of course,   everyone’s favorite rich and flaky Southern confection, pecan pie?

Pie dough:

1 ½ cups all purpose flour

½ t salt

2 t sugar

6 T cold butter cut into 1T pieces

2 T Crisco

3 – 5 T ice water

Pace flour, salt and sugar in food processor bowl.  Pulse to mix.  Place butter and Crisco around bowl and pulse until mixture resembles coarse corn meal.  Sprinkle 3 T ice water around bowl.  Pulse briefly.  If mixture has not begun to come together add 1 more T ice water. Mix again until a ball starts to form.  Stop processor. Take out mixture and pat into a round disk on top of a sheet of plastic wrap. Wrap around disk and refrigerate for at least ½ hour.

Roll out dough and fit into a 9-inch tart pan (with a removable bottom) or a pie tin.  If tart pan, make edges thick enough so they will not shrink or collapse when baked.  If pie tin, lap edge over ¾ inch, fold under and make a decorative edge.  Place tin in freezer while you make the filling.

Filling:

2 ½ cups pecan halves

4 large eggs

½ C sugar

1 C dark corn syrup

½ C light corn syrup

1 t pure vanilla extract

whipped cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coarsely chop 1 ¼ cups pecans; set aside.  In a medium bowl, combine eggs and sugar.  Whisk to combine.  Add corn syrups and vanilla.  Whisk until well combined. Add chopped pecans, and stir.  Pour into tart shell.

Arrange remaining 1 ¼ cups pecan halves decoratively on top of tart and bake until crust is golden, filling is firm, and a cake tester inserted in center of tart comes out clean—about 50 minutes.  Cool completely before slicing.  Serve with whipped cream. (Photo by sweetpapika.)

Turkey and Pie, Food & Wine on Dating Symbol blog

Victor Basks in Pie Heaven

I don’t know about you, but my Mom never placed a pie on the window sill to cool. That probably wouldn’t have been a good thing to do in Brooklyn. However, she was – and is – an avid pie baker. And even if the intoxicating aromas of her pies didn’t waft through the neighborhood, they certainly did permeate the house, as well as our hearts, especially this time of year. They still do.

Stunning Pies, Food & Wine Section, Dating Symbol blog

Very little says “comfort food” the way a home-baked pie does. For me it evokes memories of holiday celebrations, special occasions or even cozy nights of copious cups of old fashioned, perked coffee and conversations around the kitchen table. And as the saying goes, “easy as pie” is fairly accurate. A pie, to some, feels somewhat intimidating to make. It’s not really. Like all good crafting, it takes some practice. Trial and error with the crust, mostly. But once you have a feel for it, you’ll be making all your favorites with almost no effort at all.

Peach pie a la mode, Food & Wine Section Dating Symbol blog

Favorites. Yes, everyone has their pie heaven. For me, it’s most assuredly the pumpkin pie. Something about the sugar and spice and everything custard and nice. I simply insist on this standard for Thanksgiving, at the very least. Whether it’s traditional or a spin off featuring praline pecans. Serve it to me solo, with a dollop of whipped heavy cream or a la mode. I’m always game for at least two slices.

Another one of my joys is the all American apple pie. I recounted a few blogs back my annual apple-picking trek to Upstate New York. Well, the majority of my harvest is always delivered to my Mom’s house. Then she works her magic, creating her famous pies, some two crusted, some topped with cinnamon laced crumbs. Everyone waits in mouthwatering anticipation for them, as they are gifted to family and friends with a loving note. And love is the operative word here, because when it comes to baking a pie, affection is always the key ingredient.

Blueberry Pie, Food & Wine Section Dating Symbol blog

So, are you a seasoned pie baking professional or a beginner? For the aficionados, please keep it up. You’re bringing such bliss and delight to all your guests – and even to the world – with your home- baked creations. There’s something so homestead about it all. And our society needs a little more of that spread around. To the pie baking rookie, I recommend starting with the basics. Apple, blueberry, pumpkin. Guess you can use a pre-made crust dough. They’re easy enough to find. But take it from me; they don’t taste the same as a kitchen original. And they usually use lard. Instead, get your hands on a good recipe (I recommend Phyllis Kirigan for guidance) and take a leap of faith. Whether you’re using shortening or butter, be sure that you keep things as cool as possible. Ice water for incorporating the crust is a must. And remember, a little moisture at a time. You can always add more water if a bit too crumbly and dry. Adding more flour to a sticky dough and then over kneading it can produce a tough crust. That doesn’t work for anybody.

OK, so get your pie recipe handy. And start to bake.

Pumpkin PIe, Food & WIne Section, Dating symbol blog

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Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Written by Victor Ribaudo http://theribaudogroup.com
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin,  https://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com
Food Stylist http://www.preston-campbell.com
Blog syndicated at http:/www.datingsymbol.com


An Apple a Day . . . in Any Way

The Unsinkable Apple Pie

Just to come clean here, this recipe was originally posted last spring when Bill and I were just beginning to collaborate.  We got such a great response we decided to repost the  recipe because it’s so uncommonly good.  For those of you who missed this the first time around, enjoy.   For those who have already read the recipe and feel slighted I promise to have a new recipe next week.  The recipe is followed by the musings of Victor who joined our team this past August.  I guarantee his commentary will send you on your way to the nearest orchard or fruit stand to get your hands on  your own mouth-watering apples.

The classic American pie often displays an empty space between the top crust and the apple filling because the apples sink considerably in the baking. Of course, there is the crumb topping, but my favorite part of a pie is a rich flaky crust. I have experimented and tweaked the classic recipe and, I believe, improved on it not only by eliminating that empty space by partially cooking down the apples to begin with and straining off excess juice, but also by using an instant tapioca thickener, 3 varieties of apples, candied ginger and Calvados. The tapioca perfectly thickens the filling leaving it neither runny nor dense. The variety of apples and the candied ginger add a complexity of taste and the Calvados gives it just the right kick.

Ingredients:

Dough for bottom crust:

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 T superfine sugar
1 t salt
4 T butter
4 T Crisco
1 egg yolk
ice water

Repeat ingredients for top crust.

3 Golden Delicious apples
3 Macoun apples
3 Granny Smith apples
¾ cup sugar
juice and zest of 1 lemon
4 pieces candied ginger, cut into a small dice
1 t cinnamon
¼ t freshly grated nutmeg
2 T instant tapioca
¼ cup Calvados
2 T butter
egg wash of 1 beaten egg yolk
1 T turbinado (raw) sugar

Procedure:

For bottom crust, place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor with metal blade in place. Pulse just until mixed. Add butter and Crisco in 1-tablespoon pieces and egg yolk. Process until only pea size pieces of fat remain. Distribute 3 tablespoons ice water over mixture and process just until mixture holds together when pinched between fingers. Add a little more water if necessary. Form into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for a half hour.
Repeat process for top crust. Better results are obtained if each crust is made separately.

While pie dough is chilling, make filling. Peel and core apples. Cut each quarter into 4 slices. As slices are placed in a bowl, add sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest from time to time and toss. Add candied ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg. Spoon into a saucepan and cook stirring from time to time on moderate heat until apples reduce but are not cooked through. Mix in 2 tablespoons instant tapioca. Remove from heat and stir in Calvados. Let cool. Strain and save juice. Straining the juice is an important step to assure the firm filling you see in the photo.

Roll out bottom pie crust to a 12-inch round and fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Trim overhang. Spoon apple filling onto bottom crust, mounding in the center. Scatter 2 tablespoons butter cut into small bits onto filling. Roll out top crust to a 12-inch round, place over filling, trim overhang and crimp edges. Make 3 or 4 cuts in top crust to let steam out. Lightly brush crust with egg wash and sprinkle on turbinado sugar. Place pie on the middle shelf of a preheated baking sheet in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes then turn down to 350 and bake for 45 minutes or until crust is golden brown and thick juices are bubbling up. Cool on rack. Simmer the juice you have saved until thickened to a syrupy consistence. Serve pie with a large scoop of vanilla ice cream over which you have ladled 2 T of the apple syrup.
Generously serves six.

Assorted apples00025SHI Symbol blog, www.datingsymbol.com

An Apple a Day . . . in Any Way

by Victor Ribaudo

I love to go apple picking. I know what you’re thinking. What does this New York City boy know about plucking fruit from a tree? Well, you’d be surprised. Just about this time of year, we join a few of our closest friends and trek Upstate New York to a perfectly beautiful apple orchard and winery, appropriately clad in plaid and jeans.
After renting our apple picking gear, we head out to the orchard and, well, go a-pickin’.

After we’ve gathered our bushels of fruit, we shop a bit at the rustic country store to purchase our apple butter, apple pies and apple cakes – munching on apple cider donuts the whole time. It’s a perfectly enchanting day, and I look forward to it every year. I especially love the way the car smells of fragrant fruit after our journey home.

Apple Butter_00008 SHI Symbol blog, www.datingsymbol.com

Of course, you don’t have to pluck your own to enjoy the abundance of apples in local markets this autumn. Roadside produce stands and even supermarkets display truck loads of the finest. But what to choose?
When I was a kid, my mom always purchased Red or Golden Delicious. These are great. However, the number of apple varieties available now is simply mind boggling. I can’t describe all of them here, but I can tell you something about my favorites.

Let’s begin with the Cortland. I found this to be one of the crispest varieties. It also doesn’t brown quickly, so it works well in salads, such as a Waldorf. Granny Smiths are also wonderfully tart and crisp in salads. I must say, though, that the spicy perfume of the McIntosh is what really says autumn to me. I adore its tartness in apple pies, but you’ll enjoy it for out-of-hand munching, too. The Gala is also excellent for fresh eating – very firm, juicy and slightly tart. Really nice with cheese, crackers and wine. If you’re taking to the kitchen this fall, Empire and Rome apples are extremely high quality cooking and baking fruits, just the right sweetness and texture. The Jonagold is also perfect for pies and cakes, since its firm and juicy flesh stands up well to the heat of your oven.

Those are just some of my favorites. Now on to the apple goodies. Those baked or cooked creations I just can’t get enough of this time of year. The apple pie, of course, takes center stage. Just the right combination of apples, sugar and spices all enrobed in a buttery, flaky crust. Who can resist it? Served a la mode, or with melted cheddar cheese – any way you like, I’m game. I’m also in love with apple strudel. A traditional Viennese dessert, this oblong pastry enfolds flaky crust around an aromatic filling of apples and spices, studded with plump raisins. Just adore it!

FiresideOB00183 SHI Symbol Blog, www.datingsymbol.com

Need more? How about an apple crumble. Don’t you just love the way the texture of the crunchy crumbs contrasts with the steaming apple filling? Or apple fritters – battered apple slices fried to a golden goodness. Has to be great, right? Or apple cake, moist and nutty.
Whipped cream on the side a must here. Even a simple baked apple, topped with brown sugar and cinnamon. Luscious.
UptownPartyCranberrytart243 SHI Symbol blog, www.datingsymbol.com

You know, apples also pair well with savory foods. Mom often treats us to pork chops sautéed with apples and sauerkraut. It really is outstanding. I like to fry apples and onions in butter as a side dish. Especially nice with pork roast. I also use chopped apples in my holiday stuffings. They add the perfect sweet-tart note that complements sage and sausage so well. I’ve even been known to include thinly sliced apple strings in my stir fries. Really!

Sliced Sausage5064 SHI Symbol Blog, www.datingsymbol.com

OK, I’m an apple fanatic. But one thing’s for sure. Whether you’re plucking from a tree or picking at a stand, you need to get out there and bring home nature’s quintessential fall fruit. As for myself, I’m off to the orchard.

Victor Ribaudo

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm
Written by Victor Ribaudo theribaudogroup.com theribaudogroup.com
Recipe Provided by Phyllis Kirigin, aka sweetpaprika https://sweetpaprika.wordpress.com
Food stylist Brian Preston Campbell
Blog syndicated at the datingsymbol.com http://datingsymbol.com/

Peach Pie Revisited

Ripe peaches at the farmers market

Selection for pie

Peaches' Destiny

Yes, I know, I’ve already published a peach pie AND a peach tart.  But I’ve made more pies and I have some new photos.

It’s that time of year again and peaches are at their peak.  If you  love peaches as much as I do, now is the time to grab your rolling pin, don your apron and go for it.  Here it is then, no corners cut, with a crumb crust for more complex flavor and texture.

Peach Pie with Crumb Topping

Crust:

1 ½ cups flour

¼ t salt

1T sugar

8 T unsalted butter, cut into ½ inch cubes

4 T ice water

Pulse flour, salt and sugar in a food processor. Add butter.  Pulse briefly.  There should still be bits of butter visible.  Add ice water around bowl and again, pulse briefly, just until dough holds together when pressed between your fingers.  Don’t let a ball form.

On work surface, press dough outward with the heel of your hand.  Pat into a round, wrap in plastic and chill for a half hour.

Crumb topping:

½ cup walnuts

1 cup flour

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

½ cup old fashion rolled oats

¼ t salt

½ cup butter, melted but not hot

While dough is chilling, prepare crumb topping in food processor.  No need to clean it first.  Pulse walnuts very briefly until roughly chopped.  Add flour, sugar, oats, salt and pulse for one second.  Transfer to a bowl, stir melted butter through and set aside.

Filling:

3 lbs. ripe peaches

juice from ½ lemon

1 cup light brown sugar

¼ cup instant tapioca

½ t vanilla

½ t cinnamon

¼ t freshly grated nutmeg

4 T butter cut into a ½ inch dice

Prepare peaches. Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Cut a small cross in the stem end of each peach.  Submerge peaches in water, a few at a time for one minute.  Remove and let cool enough to handle. With a paring knife, catch hold of the cut skin.  It will pull off easily.  Cut peaches into ½ inch slices or into small cubes. Place back in pot you have just emptied.  Add lemon juice, sugar, tapioca, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.

Roll out dough to a 12 inch round.  Place in a deep dish 9-inch pie pan, crimp edges and chill for 15 minutes.

Pour off liquid that has collected in bottom of peach mixture.  This is very important to assure a firm filling and not a soupy one.

Place mixture in pie shell, heaping slightly in center.  Dot with butter and then top with crumb mixture breaking it into small clumps.

Place in a 400 degree oven for a half hour.  Lower heat to 350 degrees.  Bake for another half hour or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly.  Let cool.  Serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  Prepare to receive rave reviews.

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