Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking: The Chef of New York's Aureole Restaurant Cooks for Family and Friends

Overview

Charlie Palmer shows how to make comfort foods that are comfortable but have a new level of taste and sophistication. Sunday supper suddenly becomes sensational. And those quick midweek meals are still quick to prepare; they just don't taste that way. Corn chowder is heartier, more intense. Traditional tuna melts become untraditional with fresh tuna, tapenade, and Fontina. That childhood favorite, Waldorf salad, becomes a modern classic with apple cider, walnut oil, and a pinch ...
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2001 Hard cover Illustrated. New in new dust jacket. Signed by author. INSCRIBED BY AUTHOR TO AGENT Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. With dust jacket. 256 p. Contains: ... Illustrations. Audience: General/trade. Read more Show Less

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Overview

Charlie Palmer shows how to make comfort foods that are comfortable but have a new level of taste and sophistication. Sunday supper suddenly becomes sensational. And those quick midweek meals are still quick to prepare; they just don't taste that way. Corn chowder is heartier, more intense. Traditional tuna melts become untraditional with fresh tuna, tapenade, and Fontina. That childhood favorite, Waldorf salad, becomes a modern classic with apple cider, walnut oil, and a pinch of curry powder.

Baked Lemon Chicken with a pile of garlic bread, a bowl of cheesy orzo or rice, and a big salad of romaine will become a Saturday night favorite, just as it is in Charlie's house. Turn Sunday's leftover Perfect Roast Chicken into Monday's Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup or Aioli Chicken Salad.

When company comes calling and you're looking for something a bit more sophisticated, try Charlie's Whole Roasted Salmon with New Potatoes and Leeks and Roasted Wild Mushroom Salad or Lamb Shanks with Tomatoes, Lentils, and Olives. Or, if you want to treat company just like family, feed them Charlie's Mom's Barbecued Chicken, Perfect Pot Roast, or a heaping platter of Linguini with Eggplant Ragu.

And what about desserts? Charlie has something to bring out the kid in everyone. Try his Brownie-Ice Cream Sandwiches or Apple "Pizza" with Cider Sorbet. His Pumpkin Custard is so easy and versatile, it can be baked family style in one large dish or in individual souffle cups when company is expected. Serve the custard with a plate of Ginger Cookies.

So what does one of New York's most celebrated chefs cook for his family and friends? Exactly what you can cook for yours with Charlie Palmer' Casual Cooking.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
If you have ever wondered if a chef's children were like the proverbial barefoot shoemaker's brood, then this is a book for you. Charlie Palmer, chef-owner of New York City's famed Aureole Restaurant, Aureole Las Vegas, and Charlie Palmer Steak in Las Vegas (along with Alva, Astra, and Metrazur in New York City), has put together a book featuring the recipes that are the mainstays of his family kitchen. Written with a bit of help from yours truly, Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking is at the opposite end of the cookbook line from Charlie's first book, Great American Food, which featured the starred-restaurant meals from Aureole. But, it is, nonetheless, just as valuable a resource.

When I first talked to Charlie about this book, he said that he wanted to do a book that would show that "a simple potato salad, made with care, could be just as delicious as any fancy restaurant dish." And "even though you are cooking simply, the food should still be presented with an eye to how it looks on the plate or in the bowl." In Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking, the photographs by Gozen Koshida certainly show that Charlie knows whereof he speaks -- we see very simple, home-cook inspired dishes that look like four-star meals.

You can tell how important family is to Charlie as you read through the book and the recipes. He still remembers his late mom's meals (even if they weren't often terrific), and his sister carries on a family tradition with their mom's famous grilled chicken. Cooking with and for his family -- wife Lisa and four rowdy boys, Courtland, Randall, Eric, and Reed -- is a pastime that Charlie clearly enjoys. It doesn't seem to matter how busy he is or how often he has to travel, he always makes time for home-cooked meals and creating family traditions. In fact, he says that Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking is, "in some ways, a starter book for people who have kids. I think we show that if you take the time and are adventuresome, you can cook with and for your kids so that the entire family can enjoy meal time. This is a book about real food -- a documentation of what I like to eat at home and what I cook for family and friends."

I asked Charlie if he was concerned that readers might confuse his restaurant cuisine with what he has written about in this book. "Absolutely not," said Charlie. "I think that I have made it very clear that this is home cooking. It has absolutely nothing to do with the contemporary American cuisine that I am known for. However, I do hope that it shows that fine cooking can begin in the home kitchen with simple, old-fashioned dishes. I can't tell you how often I have, throughout my career, thought about some old-fashioned recipe that I loved and reinvented it in the Aureole kitchen to elevate it to contemporary American dining standards."

I know that I had a marvelous time gathering the recipes for Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking, and I am sure that home cooks will treasure the simple, straightforward dishes. A few of them are a bit high-end, for those weekend nights when you want to entertain more lavishly, but for the most part these are recipes you will make week after week, year in and year out. Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking is rather like inheriting your family recipe folder. Cook from it and you will begin your own family mealtime traditions.

--Judith Choate

David Burke
This cookbook has the perfect balance between clear, straightforward recipes and an upgrading twist. Charlie's inventive and creative vegetable dishes are my favorite. —Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group
Jerry Traunfield
Tom's lively restaurants have defined Seattle's cuisine since the Dahlia Lounge first opened its doors. Now he's captured his inspired and soulful cooking style in this exciting book. It's loaded with approachable and appealing recipes, including the best versions of Dungeness Crab Cakes, Tuscan Bread Salad, and Coconut Cream Pie you'll ever come across. On top of that, Tom gives you an insider's culinary tour of Seattle with stops at all the best places in this food-loving town.
Sara Moulton
In my opinion, it is time for families to get back to the table and dine—and Charlie Palmer has taken all of his chef-ly wisdom and boiled it down for the home cook so that it is possible for all of us hectic working folks to pick up the ingredients from the neighborhood market and make nourishing comfort food on a nightly basis. I already have at least five recipes I want to make immediately—at the top of my list is "Cheez Sammiches." This is a book that should be on the kitchen shelf of every working family.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Chef at several chic New York restaurants, including the highly-rated Aureole, Palmer (Great American Food) adds a most relaxed cookbook to the new niche of easy recipes by top professionals. As Palmer points out, when he cooks at home, he doesn't have a prep staff either, so for inspiration he recalls many of the meals his mother used to make and adds an updated twist with his passion for fresh seasonal ingredients. Decidedly unpretentious, the fare features such perennial favorites as Mom's Chicken Noodle Soup and Great Burgers on the GrillDwhich one can make more dazzling with minced red onion and fresh herbs. In Tuna MeltsDMy Way, Palmer calls for seared tuna steaks on sourdough toast slathered with tapenade and topped with Fontina cheese, and Perfect Roast Chicken (thoroughly rubbed with lemon juice) sounds irresistibly savory. Readers will be thrilled to find that Breast of Duck with Citrus Sauce and Mixed Fruit Chutney is deemed more demanding simply because extra prep time is required. For an informal brunch, Palmer offers Mile-High Shrimp Sandwiches glistening with Blue Cheese Dressing. Desserts are as comforting as Fresh Fruit Cobbler and as clever as Apple "Pizza" with Cider Sorbet. (Jan.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Florence Fabricant
Unlike books that encourage home cooks to painstakingly recreate difficult four-part recipes from restaurant kitchens (without the help of an army of line cooks),[books such as Mr. Palmer's] take a laid-back approach. But at the same time — and this is the value of these books — the chefs are doing what comes naturally, working professional techniques into their home cooking.now, thanks to Mr. Palmer, the chef and owner of Aureole in Manhattan, among other places, when I make a favorite winter dessert, poached dried fruit in wine, I will intensify the flavor and firm up the texture by lightly roasting the fruit in a little butter before serving. His veal loin, wrapped in foil and roasted, was exceptionally juicy. Roasting lobster pieces glossed with olive oil in a hot oven is also worth remembering...Mr. Palmer's book offers several quick and tasty vegetable dishes, including roasted beets with garlic, greens sautéed with a pound of shallots, and carrots braised in Guinness. The carrots had a delicious intensity, though I added a touch of lemon juice.
New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688178734
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.63 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Chicken Fricassee with Dumplings

A tough oId bird or stewing hen traditionally used for fricassee or soup is getting harder and harder to find, but a good butcher might help you out. If you are lucky enough to be able to obtain one from a local farmer, the cooking time should be increased by about 45 minutes. This is a wonderful old-fashioned dish that almost nobody makes anymore. It's so filling and full of rich goodness, and it makes the house smell like Grandma is in the kitchen. A perfect meal for a chilly fall family dinner. Unfortunately, we never have any leftovers.

Serves 6

Ingredients:

One 6-pound stewing hen, cut into serving pieces, or 6 pounds chicken parts, rinsed and patted dry
1/2 cup diced onion
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 large carrot, sliced
3 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme
Pinch of saffron threads
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening or lard or 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 large egg, beaten
Approximately 1 cup milk
1 tablespoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water, optional

Instructions

  1. Place the chicken pieces in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot and add the onion, celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, and saffron threads. Pour in the chicken broth and wine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add cold water to cover by about 1 inch, place over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Cover, lower the heat to a simmer, andsimmer for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is very tender. Remove from the heat.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, lift the chicken pieces from the cooking liquid and place them on a large platter. Cover loosely with foil to keep warm.
  3. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine sieve back into the Dutch oven, discarding all of the solids. Bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt to taste in a medium bowl. Cut in the shortening to make a crumbly mixture. Stir in the egg and just enough milk to make a soft dough.
  5. Drop the dumpling dough into the bubbling cooking broth by the heaping tablespoonful (use a wet tablespoon to keep the dough from sticking). Lower the heat to a gentle simmer, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes without removing the cover. Remove from the heat.
  6. Meanwhile, carefully remove and discard the skin and bones from the hot chicken, keeping the meat in pieces that are as large as possible. Place the meat in the center of the platter and tent loosely with the foil to keep warm.
  7. Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the dumplings from the broth and place them around the chicken on the platter. Generously cover the chicken and dumplings with the cooking broth, which should be as thick as a gravy. (if the broth is not thick enough to serve as gravy, whisk in the optional cornstarch mixture over medium heat until thickened.) Pass the remaining gravy at the table.

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

When winter has set in and the supermarket bins are laden with rock-hard, tasteless fruit and even the apples and pears are no longer appealing — it is time to pull out that can of pineapple that's been sitting on the shelf for just such a moment. Upside-down cakes are easy, last-minute desserts for weekdays and weekends. They are best made in a cast-iron skillet, but a 9-inch round or square cake pan will also do the trick.

Makes one 9-inch cake

Ingredients:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
7 canned pineapple slices (one 20-ounce can), well drained
7 candied, dried, or maraschino cherries, optional
1/2 cup walnut or pecan halves
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Melt the butter in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet (or a 9-inch round or square cake pan) over low heat. Stir in the brown sugar and stir until the sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is well combined. Remove from the heat and quickly arrange the pineapple rings in a neat pattern in the pan. Place a cherry in the center of each ring, if desired, and scatter the nuts over any empty spaces. Cover loosely with aluminum foil to keep warm.
  3. Beat the egg yolks and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until thick and lemon colored. Beat in the vanilla. Sift the flour and baking powder together and alternately add to the egg mixture with 1/2 cup water, beating until very well blended.
  4. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl until stiff peaks form, then fold the beaten whites into the batter. Pour the batter over the pineapple in the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert onto a cake plate and gently tap the cake out. (It should release easily with the pineapple pattern in place.)
  6. Serve hot or warm, with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt, ice cream, or frozen yogurt, if desired.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
The Well-Stocked Kitchen 5
A Group of Soups 11
All Kinds of Salads 39
Lunch and Brunch 67
Vegetables and Sides 103
Pasta and Risotto 125
Poultry and Game Birds 137
Meat and Game 159
Seafood 187
Desserts 203
Sources 235
Index 237
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Recipe

Recipes from Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking

Potato Salad
Serves 6 to 8

I'm almost reluctant to write a recipe for potato salad. I have had so many versions -- French, German, Southwestern, Greek, deli-style -- but I've never really liked any of them as much as I love my mother's old-fashioned American mayonnaise-dressed version. It is what I now usually make for family picnics, cookouts, and summer weekend meals. If you want to add your own flourish, this basic salad might welcome some pickle relish, olives, or roasted red peppers or pimientos. If you are counting calories, you can lighten the dressing by using half nonfat yogurt and half mayonnaise.

8 large all-purpose potatoes, scrubbed
4 large hard-boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 cup finely diced celery
1/2 cup chopped scallions
1/2 cup finely diced onion
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 to 2 cups mayonnaise, or to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the potatoes in a large saucepan with cold water to cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender when pierced with the point of a small sharp knife. Drain well and allow to cool significantly.

2. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, peel and cut them into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks. Place the potatoes in a large bowl. Add the eggs, celery, scallions, and onion and toss to combine.

3. Stir celery seeds and mustard into 1 cup of the mayonnaise. Add the vinegar and stir to blend well. Fold the mayonnaise into the potato mixture, taking care not to mash the potatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and add additional mayonnaise until the salad is as moist as you like. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

NOTE: If you have the courage to handle the potatoes while they are still quite hot, cut and dress them with the mayonnaise. They will absorb much more of the dressing, and the salad will be more deeply flavored. Do not add the eggs, celery, scallions, and onion until the potatoes have cooled significantly.

Venison Chili
Serves 6 to 8

Every fall, my brothers and I went hunting with our dad, and in good years, we ate venison all winter in stews, soups, and burgers. Nowadays farmed venison is available all year long from butchers and specialty food stores. Venison chili has remained a family favorite. As I learned more about seasonings, I fooled with my mom's basic recipe, but the idea remains true -- a huge pot of hearty, crowd-pleasing, warmly spiced chili. The optional jalapeño adds some heat to this gently seasoned brew. A pan of freshly baked corn bread and a salad of romaine make a complete meal.

1/2 pound (about 1 cup) dried black beans, rinsed and picked clean
2 tablespoons canola oil, or more as needed
2 pounds boneless venison steak, cut into small cubes
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 jalapeño chile, or to taste, seeded and minced, optional
2 tablespoons ground chile powder (see Note)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
One 28-ounce can tomatoes, chopped, with their juice
1/2 cup chipotle chiles in adobo (see Note)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
One 12-ounce bottle dark beer
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese or crumbled goat cheese, optional
1 cup sour cream or crème fraîche, optional

1. Place the beans in a large saucepan with cold water to cover by 3 inches and allow them to soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.

2. Leaving the beans in their soaking water, place the saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the beans are tender. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Pat the venison dry and season it to taste with salt and pepper. Place the meat in the pot without crowding (in batches, if necessary) and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until nicely browned; you may have to use additional oil to keep the meat from sticking. Remove the meat from the pot as it is browned.

4. When all of the meat has been browned, add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and optional jalapeño to the Dutch oven and sauté for 5 minutes. Return the meat to the pot and add the chile powder, cumin, and oregano, stirring to combine well. Add the tomatoes, chipotle chiles, and tomato paste and stir to blend. Add the beer and the beans, with their cooking liquid, and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for about 2 hours, or until the chili is very thick and the meat is almost falling apart (see Note).

5. Serve hot, topped with cheese and a dollop of sour cream or crème fraîche, if desired.

NOTE: Be sure to use a pure chile powder, such as that ground from New Mexico, pasilla, árbol, or California chiles, available from Latin markets, specialty food stores, and some supermarkets. If you can't find pure ground dried chiles, use the commercially blended chili powder, but do not add the cumin until after the chili has cooked a bit. Because most commercial blends include cumin, you will need to give a taste and decide whether you should add some or all of the cumin called for in the recipe.

Chipotle chiles in adobo are chiles canned in a seasoned tomato sauce. They are available from Latin markets, specialty food stores, and many supermarkets.

All chilies are best made a day or two in advance and reheated just before serving. This gives the flavors a chance to meld together for a more subtle taste.

Apple "Pizza" with Cider Sorbet
Makes one 8-inch tart

My sister, Brenda, and her husband, Bill, run an old-fashioned cider mill in Fly Creek, New York, just outside of Cooperstown. The mill's 1889 press, powered by a thumping waterwheel, makes a rich and delicious apple cider that has become a fixture on our fall table. After a day at the mill, it always seems natural to use the cider or just-picked apples in some part of the evening meal. Frequently, it is a main course of apples with pork or game. But if a vote were taken, an apple dessert would be my family's choice -- and this one would be the favorite.

Although the pizza stands up well on its own, I like to give it yet another zap of apple with a scoop of cider sorbet. Because the sorbet is made with a puree of cooked apples rather than apple juice, it is creamy, not icy, and has a more substantial texture than most sorbets. But I'm sure a scoop of premium vanilla ice cream instead would bring no complaints.

3 medium Granny Smith apples (or Braeburn, pippin, or transparent)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons apple cider
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons Wondra flour
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 recipe Flaky Pie Pastry (see below)
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar
Cider Sorbet (recipe follows)

1. Peel and core the apples. Halve them lengthwise and cut each half lengthwise into paper-thin slices. Place the slices in a medium bowl, sprinkle with the lemon juice, add the cider, and toss to combine. Add the granulated sugar, flour, and cinnamon and toss to coat well. Drizzle the melted butter over the top and toss again.

2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough, working from the center out, into a circle approximately 9 inches in diameter and 1/4 inch thick. Carefully lift the dough onto an 8-inch pizza pan or a pizza stone. Fold the 1/2 inch of overhanging dough under itself all around to give the pastry circle a double thickness along the edge. Using your fingertips, crimp a neat fluted rim of dough.

4. Working from the edge toward the center, make concentric circles of slightly overlapping apple slices, with the outside edge of the slices toward the edge of the dough. In the center of the tart, use a few apple slices to make a slightly raised rosette shape. Sprinkle the apples with the cinnamon sugar.

5. Bake the tart for 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the apples are tender, caramelized, and beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.

6. Cut the tart into wedges and serve with the sorbet.

Flaky Pie Pastry
Makes enough for one 2-crust 9-inch pie

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup chilled solid vegetable shortening, lard, or a combination of shortening and unsalted butter

1. Combine the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the shortening and pulse until the mixture is crumbly. Add up to 1/4 cup ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing as you go, until the dough comes together in a loose ball; do not overmix or let the dough get too wet.

2. Remove the dough from the processor, divide it in half, and shape each piece into a disk. Wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes, or until chilled.

3. For a two-crust pie, on a lightly floured board, roll out each piece of dough to a circle about 12 inches in diameter and 1/8 inch thick. Fit one circle into a 9-inch pie pan, leaving the edges overhanging the pan. Fill the pan with the filling, then place the second circle of dough over the filling, pressing the edges of the pastry together with your thumb and forefinger. Trim off any excess pastry and crimp the edges together.

4. For a one-crust pie, roll out one piece of dough into a 10- to 12-inch circle and fit it into a 9-inch pie pan, leaving the edges overhanging the pan. Fold the excess dough under the edge. Using your thumb and forefinger, crimp a decorative edge. Using a fork, prick the bottom of the pie shell.

5. To prebake the crust, whisk together 1 large egg white and 1 tablespoon cold water. Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the pastry with this egg wash. Bake in a preheated 375 degree F oven for about 15 minutes, or until the crush is set and lightly browned.

Cider Sorbet
Makes about 5 cups

2 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
1 cup apple cider or hard cider
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1. Combine the apples and 1/3 cup of the cider in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 15 minutes, or until the apples have softened. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

2. Stir the apples until blended into a smooth puree or puree in a blender or food processor.

3. Combine the sugar, 1 cup cold water, the cinnamon stick, and orange zest in a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, and boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice. Pour into a heat-resistant bowl, set in a larger bowl of ice water, and let stand until cold.

4. Strain the sugar syrup through a fine sieve; discard the cinnamon stick and zest.

5. Measure out 2 1/2 cups of the apple puree and place in a bowl. Add the sugar syrup and the remaining 2/3 cup cider and stir to blend well. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions for ice cream.

Recipes from Charlie Palmer's Casual Cooking by Charlie Palmer. Copyright © 2001 by Charlie Palmer.

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