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Kourambiedes


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I had some kourambiedes in Poros, Greece and they were fantastic. Crumbly, rich, nutty and just downright tasty. I've been looking for a good, authentic recipe for these power sugar dusted morsels of heaven. Unfortunately, the Greek cookbook I bought in Santorini doesn't provide the best measurements for me (..."use 3 teacups of flour"...).

Does anyone have a recipe for kourambiedes they'd like to share? Many thanks in advance!

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I had some kourambiedes in Poros, Greece and they were fantastic.  Crumbly, rich, nutty and just downright tasty.  I've been looking for a good, authentic recipe for these power sugar dusted morsels of heaven.  Unfortunately, the Greek cookbook I bought in Santorini doesn't provide the best measurements for me (..."use 3 teacups of flour"...). 

Does anyone have a recipe for kourambiedes they'd like to share?  Many thanks in advance!

This is Evelyn's recipe from Recipezaar. She has a treasure trove of Greek recipes on this site. I haven't made these, and am generally wary of most "recipe site" recipes, but everything else that I have ever made of her's is fantastic.

Kourambiedes (A Greek Christmas Cookie) #76513

by evelyn/athens

Basically a Greek butterball cookie recipe. These, with Melomakarona, are found in every Greek home during the Christmas Holidays. I go through phases. One year, or for a couple of years, these are my favourites, then Melomakarona are, and I keep switching back and forth. They're both wonderful! These keep wonderfully, long after Christmas is over, if any are left. —

2   cups butter, softened

2   egg yolks

3-4   cups flour

1   cup icing sugar

1   teaspoon baking powder

1   tablespoon brandy

1/2   teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2   teaspoon baking soda

1   cup almonds, chopped and roasted

  some rose water or orange flower water (available in many ethnic groceries) or ouzo

  extra icing sugar, for rolling the cookies in

70-80 cookies Change size or US/metric | 30 minutes 15 mins prep

1.  Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer for 15 minutes, until it begins to turn white.

2.  Add the egg yolks, the brandy, and gradually add the flour, until you have a dough that is neither too soft nor too firm (you may need to add slightly more than the amount I've written); stir in the almonds.

3.  Let the dough stand for an hour in a warm place covered by a towel.

4.  Next, with small amounts (about 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough), shape small rounds by gently rolling the dough around between the palms of your hands.

5.  Arrange the round cookies on a buttered pan and flatten ever so slightly on top with your hand.

6.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

7.  Immediately upon removing the kourambiedes from the oven, sprinkle them with rose water (or orange water or ouzo. I do this by putting a small amount of the liquid in a bowl, wetting my fingertips, and shaking the droplets over the hot cookies a few times. The scented water or ouzo gives the cookies a very delicate fragrance).

8.  Roll the hot cookies in icing sugar to cover and let cool.

9.  When cool, arrange on a pretty holiday platter, sieving more icing sugar between the cookie layers to give a snowdrift effect.

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Awesome, thanks! This is the first recipe that I've seen that calls for clarifying the butter and for Ouzo. Most recipes thus far have called for brandy. I wonder if the brandy/ouzo addition affects the taste.(Personally, I'm not crazy about ouzo b/c I don't like the anise taste. The ones on Poros island may have ouzo but they didn't taste like it.)

Can anyone explain the difference in results using regular melted butter vs clarified butter? From what I understand, all the milk solids are removed from the clarified butter so I guess this would make for a difference in texture in the final product?

We have a cooky swap at work in a few weeks. I would really like to try my hand at these. I will test them out on my team one of these weekends...hopefully I won't poison them too badly!

Thanks!

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Awesome, thanks!  This is the first recipe that I've seen that calls for clarifying the butter and for Ouzo.  Most recipes thus far have called for brandy.  I wonder if the brandy/ouzo addition affects the taste.(Personally, I'm not crazy about ouzo b/c I don't like the anise taste.  The ones on Poros island may have ouzo but they didn't taste like it.) 

Don't worry about anise - you can't really taste anise in it. Both brandy and ouzo versions are good. I remember someone commenting on ouzo version 'has somewhat smoky flavour'.

Tip: Use almonds with skin and chop them very, very roughly.

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Smoky flavour, huh? Interesting. I don't have brandy or ouzo in the house, so I'll have to get some at the local booze hut.

I don't know if I'd like the kourambiedes with a smoky flavor. What I really enjoyed about the cookies was their moist, crumbly texture and the almond flavor. How long would they keep, I wonder?

I miss Greece!!!

Edited by Gastro888 (log)
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Melamakarouna!!!

Does anyone have a good recipe? I have a really old cookbook from a Church Ladies' Group ("The Art of Greek Cookery" by the women of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Hempstead, Long Island), and have always used their recipe, but somehow it isn't quite what I had in mind... Kourabiedes discussion was very interesting...I always used the recipe in this book; no clarifying of butter, just half a pound of sweet butter creamed for a long time, not a lot of sugar (3/4 cup confectioner), and definitely brandy or cognac, NOT ouzo. I used to be married for a long time to a Greek from Greece and he thought they were as they should be. Good luck! They are wonderful.

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The less water in your dough, the better your cookie will be. I suggest you make Greek butter-almond cookies with chilled clarified butter , ouzo, and pure extrracts to cut out the water completely..

10 ounces unsalted AA butter will make 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons clarified butter.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I had some kourambiedes in Poros, Greece and they were fantastic.  Crumbly, rich, nutty and just downright tasty.  I've been looking for a good, authentic recipe for these power sugar dusted morsels of heaven.  Unfortunately, the Greek cookbook I bought in Santorini doesn't provide the best measurements for me (..."use 3 teacups of flour"...). 

Does anyone have a recipe for kourambiedes they'd like to share?  Many thanks in advance!

This is Evelyn's recipe from Recipezaar. She has a treasure trove of Greek recipes on this site. I haven't made these, and am generally wary of most "recipe site" recipes, but everything else that I have ever made of her's is fantastic.

Kourambiedes (A Greek Christmas Cookie) #76513

by evelyn/athens

Basically a Greek butterball cookie recipe. These, with Melomakarona, are found in every Greek home during the Christmas Holidays. I go through phases. One year, or for a couple of years, these are my favourites, then Melomakarona are, and I keep switching back and forth. They're both wonderful! These keep wonderfully, long after Christmas is over, if any are left. —

2   cups butter, softened

2   egg yolks

3-4   cups flour

1   cup icing sugar

1   teaspoon baking powder

1   tablespoon brandy

1/2   teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2   teaspoon baking soda

1   cup almonds, chopped and roasted

  some rose water or orange flower water (available in many ethnic groceries) or ouzo

  extra icing sugar, for rolling the cookies in

70-80 cookies Change size or US/metric | 30 minutes 15 mins prep

1.  Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer for 15 minutes, until it begins to turn white.

2.  Add the egg yolks, the brandy, and gradually add the flour, until you have a dough that is neither too soft nor too firm (you may need to add slightly more than the amount I've written); stir in the almonds.

3.  Let the dough stand for an hour in a warm place covered by a towel.

4.  Next, with small amounts (about 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough), shape small rounds by gently rolling the dough around between the palms of your hands.

5.  Arrange the round cookies on a buttered pan and flatten ever so slightly on top with your hand.

6.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

7.  Immediately upon removing the kourambiedes from the oven, sprinkle them with rose water (or orange water or ouzo. I do this by putting a small amount of the liquid in a bowl, wetting my fingertips, and shaking the droplets over the hot cookies a few times. The scented water or ouzo gives the cookies a very delicate fragrance).

8.  Roll the hot cookies in icing sugar to cover and let cool.

9.  When cool, arrange on a pretty holiday platter, sieving more icing sugar between the cookie layers to give a snowdrift effect.

I know Evelyn (or her recipes,anyways) from that site, too, and they are very good. She teaches cooking classes in Greece.

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I had some kourambiedes in Poros, Greece and they were fantastic.  Crumbly, rich, nutty and just downright tasty.  I've been looking for a good, authentic recipe for these power sugar dusted morsels of heaven.  Unfortunately, the Greek cookbook I bought in Santorini doesn't provide the best measurements for me (..."use 3 teacups of flour"...). 

Does anyone have a recipe for kourambiedes they'd like to share?  Many thanks in advance!

This is Evelyn's recipe from Recipezaar. She has a treasure trove of Greek recipes on this site. I haven't made these, and am generally wary of most "recipe site" recipes, but everything else that I have ever made of her's is fantastic.

Kourambiedes (A Greek Christmas Cookie) #76513

by evelyn/athens

Basically a Greek butterball cookie recipe. These, with Melomakarona, are found in every Greek home during the Christmas Holidays. I go through phases. One year, or for a couple of years, these are my favourites, then Melomakarona are, and I keep switching back and forth. They're both wonderful! These keep wonderfully, long after Christmas is over, if any are left. —

2   cups butter, softened

2   egg yolks

3-4   cups flour

1   cup icing sugar

1   teaspoon baking powder

1   tablespoon brandy

1/2   teaspoon almond extract (optional)

1/2   teaspoon baking soda

1   cup almonds, chopped and roasted

  some rose water or orange flower water (available in many ethnic groceries) or ouzo

  extra icing sugar, for rolling the cookies in

70-80 cookies Change size or US/metric | 30 minutes 15 mins prep

1.  Cream the butter and sugar in a mixer for 15 minutes, until it begins to turn white.

2.  Add the egg yolks, the brandy, and gradually add the flour, until you have a dough that is neither too soft nor too firm (you may need to add slightly more than the amount I've written); stir in the almonds.

3.  Let the dough stand for an hour in a warm place covered by a towel.

4.  Next, with small amounts (about 1 1/2 teaspoons of dough), shape small rounds by gently rolling the dough around between the palms of your hands.

5.  Arrange the round cookies on a buttered pan and flatten ever so slightly on top with your hand.

6.  Bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

7.  Immediately upon removing the kourambiedes from the oven, sprinkle them with rose water (or orange water or ouzo. I do this by putting a small amount of the liquid in a bowl, wetting my fingertips, and shaking the droplets over the hot cookies a few times. The scented water or ouzo gives the cookies a very delicate fragrance).

8.  Roll the hot cookies in icing sugar to cover and let cool.

9.  When cool, arrange on a pretty holiday platter, sieving more icing sugar between the cookie layers to give a snowdrift effect.

I know Evelyn (or her recipes,anyways) from that site, too, and they are very good. She teaches cooking classes in Greece.

I have made this recipe recently. They turn out very well. They are melt in your mouth delectable.

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Melamakarouna!!!

Does anyone have a good recipe?  I have a really old cookbook from a Church Ladies' Group ("The Art of Greek Cookery" by the women of St. Paul's Greek Orthodox Church in Hempstead, Long Island), and have always used their recipe, but somehow it isn't quite what I had in mind...   Kourabiedes discussion was very interesting...I always used the recipe in this book; no clarifying of butter, just half a pound of sweet butter creamed for a long time, not a lot of sugar (3/4 cup confectioner), and definitely brandy or cognac, NOT ouzo.  I used to be married for a long time to a Greek from Greece and he thought they were as they should be.  Good luck!   They are wonderful.

Here is a recipe:

Melomakarouna

You really need to use a high quality honey for this cookie. If possible, you should try to find Greek honey. The honey makes this cookie.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I've never had Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cakes. I can tell you these cookies are round and covered in powdered sugar and when you bite into them, they're moist and crumbly. They're very buttery and rich. You get covered in white sugar when you eat them. I love Greek food...*sigh*

I miss Greece!

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  • 1 year later...

I am so glad I did a search for these cookies here. I have been fascinated by them and order them everytime at my local Greek deli. The very nice old man who owns the place sells them for a dollar a piece. So a dozen is pretty pricy! He said they are pricy because they are homemade and very good. I agree, they are awsome with a crumbly texture, roasted almond chunks, and a very light exotic flavor that I think is orange blossom water because it reminds me of the Lebanese milk ice cream I had in Lebanon.

When I asked for the recipe he says "You want recipe?! You have to call my Mother in Law". So, I am glad a thread is already dedicated to this cookie since calling his MIL is not an option :smile:.

Anyone has any updates about the recipes listed above? which one works better? I do NOT want to use Crisco, only butter.

E. Nassar
Houston, TX

My Blog
contact: enassar(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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Jean Anderson has a nice recipe in "The New DoubleDay Cookbook" that I made once a long time ago and that I remember enjoying. Thanks for reminding me of them.

Her version uses unsalted butter, powdered sugar, egg yolk, flour, brandy, (finely) chopped almonds or walnuts. Except for the brandy, the dough is very similar to Vanilla Kipfel (an Austrian Christmas cookie classic flavored with vanilla flavoring in the dough and also luxuriously powdered with vanilla sugar).

She suggests a variant for the Kourabiedes that I tried and that was very good. You stud each cookie with a whole clove before baking.

I found a link to a recipe that is very similar to one that I've used from Jean Anderson noted above. Differences are that Anderson’s recipe has 2 ¼ cups sifted flour, no salt and no baking powder. link

Here is quote from the recipe introduction (in the linked recipe) regarding the clove.

Each of these almond shortbreads is studded with a whole clove, a symbol of the Magi's gift of spices to the Christ Child. Kourambiedes are served in the Greek community not only at Christmas, but also christenings, weddings, name days...in fact, at all festive occasions.

edited to add: Just remember to remind guests, if needed, to remove the clove. It's not for eating in this state... :smile:

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I don't know if I'd like the kourambiedes with a smoky flavor.  What I really enjoyed about the cookies was their moist, crumbly texture and the almond flavor.  How long would they keep, I wonder? 

I miss Greece!!!

Because these are so similar to Vanillakipfel I suspect that they would last a long time (at least 3 weeks). We always make Vanillakipfel at least a week before eating them to mellow the flavor and develop the texture.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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The less water in your dough, the better  your cookie will be. I suggest you  make Greek butter-almond cookies with chilled clarified butter , ouzo, and pure extrracts to cut out the water completely..

10 ounces unsalted AA butter will make 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons clarified butter.

Interesting suggestion; I need to try this sometime.

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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I don't know if I'd like the kourambiedes with a smoky flavor.  What I really enjoyed about the cookies was their moist, crumbly texture and the almond flavor.  How long would they keep, I wonder? 

I miss Greece!!!

Because these are so similar to Vanillakipfel I suspect that they would last a long time (at least 3 weeks). We always make Vanillakipfel at least a week before eating them to mellow the flavor and develop the texture.

My Greek mother-in-law makes kourambiedes every Christmas to give as gifts, and not only does she dust hers with powdered sugar, as soon as they come out of the oven, she packs them in powdered sugar in little gift tins. They last an unbelievably long time, supposedly because the powdered sugar is so fine that it keeps out any air. The reasoning may be a family myth, but I can tell you, I've opened a tin of her Christmas cookies the following July, and they're still perfect.

The food of thy soul is light and space; feed it then on light and space. But the food of thy body is champagne and oysters; feed it then on champagne and oysters; and so shall it merit a joyful resurrection, if there is any to be. --Herman Melville

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I am so glad I did a search for these cookies here. I have been fascinated by them and order them everytime at my local Greek deli. The very nice old man who owns the place sells them for a dollar a piece. So a dozen is pretty pricy! He said they are pricy because they are homemade and very good. I agree, they are awsome with a crumbly texture, roasted almond chunks, and a very light exotic flavor that I think is orange blossom water because it reminds me of the Lebanese milk ice cream I had in Lebanon.

When I asked for the recipe he says "You want recipe?! You have to call my Mother in Law". So, I am glad a thread is already dedicated to this cookie since calling his MIL is not an option :smile:.

Anyone has any updates about the recipes listed above? which one works better? I do NOT want to use Crisco, only butter.

I've made them before, but I used a recipe from a cookbook I bought in Greece. Unfortunately, it is still in the USA, so I can't look up the recipe for you, but I definitely made them with butter.

Edited by Swisskaese (log)
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I made Evelyn's melamakarona this morning (from the recipezaar site) and they are excellent. I adore these cookies and usually only get them once a year at my local Greek festival. There are so many variations in recipes out there ~ the semolina seems to provide the texture I've always enjoyed.

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Here's my grandmother's recipe (from Greeks from Marmara Island, Turkey):

1 lb butter, unsalted

1/2 c powdered sugar

2 egg yolks

1 jigger whiskey

1 t baking powder

5 1/2 c flour (about)

3/4 c chopped almonds

several cups of powdered sugar for garnish

Cream butter, add sugar, egg yolks and whiskey.

Add flour sifted with baking powder.

Knead 20 minutes (She said this was very important to give the the delicate texture, and these certainly are delicate). Add nuts and knead to blend.

Shape into ovals about an inch and a half long by an inch wide, or moon shapes, bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 for around 15 minutes, till they just start to brown.

Roll when still fairly hot in powdered sugar. After they cool, pack into tins, with a thin layer of powdered sugar on the bottom, then put more powdered sugar in a strainer and shake over the tops. Put on a layer of wax paper, repeat with next layer and so on.

-------------------------------------------------------

Another couple of our family favorites that were mostly around during Christmas:

Finikia (Fee-nee-kya)

My mom would make large batches of these to give to neighbors as well, and as they kept well, there would be a lot out in a container in our unheated garage, and it was our favorite cookie to raid. So she took to trying to hide them...packing them in places she didn't think we would look, like the old pressure cooker up on a shelf that she practically never used. We found them of course. ;)

1/2 c sugar

1/2 c orange juice

2 c wesson oil*

2 c chopped walnuts

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg

6-7 cup flour (start with 6, add more if needed)

Syrup: 1 lb honey boiled together with 1 c water and 3 thin slices of lemon

Blend oil, sugar and spices. Add juice. Add flour and make a smooth dough, knead gently, add nuts and knead to blend.

Shape into app. 2" rectangular shapes, bake on ungreased cookie sheet for around 30-35 minutes till lightly browned.

While cookies are baking, make syrup and keep warm.

Take cookies hot from the oven and place directly into the syrup, allow to sit for 2 minutes or so to soak in syrup, remove with fork to drain.

There seems to be lots of mystique about dipping in syrup - some ladies insist it must be cold cookies in hot syrup, others say "no, you got it mixed up, it's hot cookies in cold syrup!" My aunts did it with hot cookies in syrup that was kept hot. You can join the fray or just try the three and see if it makes any difference at all. I suspect it does not. ;)

--------------------------------------------------------

Koulourakia

The name comes from the word "koulouri," which means "bread ring," the "akia" is the ending that means "small ones." I've seen them made in rings but my family never did. In Greece I've seen various recipes, most with all butter, some with the addition of some oil, but Crisco does not exist there so this must have been a post-immigration adaptation. I helped make them in a friend's house in their village in Kephallonia; they made all sorts of shapes and really had fun with it. (My brother and I always did too.) My friends' mother made one that looked like a baby, then thought again, grabbed a little bit of dough and turned him into a male baby, which was the source of five minutes of cackling. :) The dough is like, that, it begs to be moulded.

This recipe makes a lot, but they are really good, and great with coffee for breakfast (the standard breakfast for many Greeks actually...a cup of Greek coffee and a bit of bread or a koulouraki or nothing).

1 c butter

1/2 c oil

1/2 c crisco

2 c sugar

4 lg eggs

4 t baking powder

1 t salt (optional)

1/2 c orange juice

2 T vanilla

9-10 c flour

Garnish:

sesame seed

egg, beaten with 1T milk

Cream butter, oil and crisco till fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add vanilla, then eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add orange juice in a slow stream. Add 9 cups of the flour, sifted with salt and baking powder, and mix in more till it's a good texture for rolling. (But keep in mind that it will roll much better after it stands.)

Let stand 20 minutes. (If you don't, it will not roll easily but will crack and break)

Take a piece about the size of a large walnut. Roll out into a rope about 6 inches long. Double the rope and twist twice, place on baking sheet. The ones they sell in Turkey are rolled much tighter but this was our way. :)

Other rolling methods:

Circles: take a smaller piece, roll into a rope about 4 inches long with tapered ends, and curl into a circle, ends overlapping. It's simple but takes a bit of practice to get elegant ones.

Smyrna style - take a piece a bit bigger than a walnut, roll into a rope about 8-9 inches long, then fold into thirds in a "Z" shape, then pushing the Z flat, if that makes sense, and unite the ends. The result will be an oblong cookie made of three perpendicular ropes. Press lightly across the ropes with three fingers of one hand to give a "wavy" top.

After cookies are formed, brush with egg white mixture, then sprinkle with sesame. My mom would just touch the top of the first brushed cookie, then dip her fingers into the sesame, then back on the cookie, and the sesame would stick. Then back to the sesame, on to the next cookie, etc. It gave a very even spread of sesame.

Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, till light brown. (The recipe has "375" written on the side; maybe my grandmother's oven was a bit hot...I have always done them at 400.)

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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