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Friday, December 03, 2010

Amy Sedaris returns to talk with the winners of our cheap craft contest! Then, Colin Quinn discusses his new one-man show “Long Story Short.” Also, we'll take a look at the legacy of Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu! Plus, Please Explain is all about espionage!

Amy Sedaris Picks the Winners of Our Listener Craft Contest

Amy Sedaris returns to pick the winners of our Cheap Craft Contest! Listeners have submitted photos of their crafts made with found objects and things they already have on hand, and people have used all kinds of materials—from popsicle sticks to wine corks to old socks to plastic shopping bags. Amy Sedaris will share her holiday craft ideas and explain how she chose the winning crafts. Winners will receive a signed copy of Amy's new book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People, and a Leonard Lopate 25th anniversary tee-shirt!

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Colin Quinn on "Long Story Short"

Colin Quinn discusses his new one-man show, “Long Story Short,” directed by Jerry Seinfeld. He takes audiences through an uproarious history of the world in 75 minutes—from Ancient Greece and Antigone to Costco and Snooki. “Long Story Short” is playing at the Helen Hayes Theatre.

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Peter Grilli on Toru Takemitsu

Peter Grilli, president of the Japan Society of Boston, discusses the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu. Almost completely self-taught, Takemitsu is considered Japan's greatest 20th-century composer. He composed the scores for nearly 100 films between 1952 and 1995. There’s a two-week celebration of Takemitsu taking place at Film Forum, as well as concerts of his work at Carnegie Hall and Columbia University, part of JapanNYC.

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Please Explain: Espionage

Today's Please Explain looks at spying, the organizations that do it, and how it's carried out and why. We're joined by Thomas S. Blanton, from George Washington University National Security Archives, and Joseph Weisberg, former CIA operative and author of An Ordinary Spy.

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Guest Picks: Colin Quinn

Colin Quinn stopped by The Leonard Lopate Show to talk about his favorite comfort food, books, music, and more!


Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

Couscous with Toasted Pine Nuts

Serves 6 to 8

If you can boil a pot of water, you can make couscous. To make my life easy when I’m entertaining, I sauté the onions, add the stock, salt, and pepper and set it aside. Before dinner, all I have to do is heat the stock, add the couscous, and wait ten minutes for a delicious side dish with no stress.

4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
3 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups couscous (12 ounces)
½ cup pine nuts, toasted (see note)
½ cup minced fresh parsley

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender but not browned. Add the chicken stock, salt, and pepper and bring to a full boil. Stir in the couscous, turn off the heat, cover, and allow to steam for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork, stir in the pine nuts and parsley, and serve hot.

To toast pine nuts, place them in a dry sauté pan and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, tossing often, until lightly browned.

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Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

Roasted Salmon with Green Herbs

Serves 6

This is a great last-minute dinner. I can pick up the salmon on the way home, and I’ve usually got some herbs in the garden, and the rest of the ingredients in the pantry. Roasting is so much less stressful than grilling and the salmon stays very moist. I have needlenose-pliers in a drawer for removing any pesky pinbones that the fish store misses.

1 (2- to 2 ½-pound) skinless salmon fillet
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ cup minced scallions, white and green parts (4 scallions)
½ cup minced fresh dill
½ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup dry white wine
Lemon wedges, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Place the salmon fillet in a glass, ceramic, or stainless-steel roasting dish and season it generously with salt and pepper. Whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle the mixture evenly over the salmon. Let it stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, stir together the scallions, dill, and parsley. Scatter the herb mixture over the salmon fillet, turning it so that both sides are generously coated with the green herbs. Pour the wine around the fish fillet.

Roast the salmon for 10 to 12 minutes, until almost cooked in the center at the thickest part. The center will be firm with just a line of uncooked salmon in the very center. (I peek by inserting the tip of a small knife.) Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut the salmon crosswise into serving pieces and serve hot with lemon wedges.

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Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake from Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?

Easy Cranberry & Apple Cake

Serves 6 to 8

This recipe is inspired by a cranberry pie from Sarah Chase’s book
Cold Weather Cooking. My friend Barbara Liberman calls it “easy cake”—I call it delicious. It’s even better served warm with vanilla ice cream.

12 ounces fresh cranberries, rinsed and picked over for stems
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and diced
½ cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon grated orange zest (2 oranges)
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
11⁄8 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream
1 cup all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Combine the cranberries, apple, brown sugar, orange zest, orange
juice, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment,
beat the eggs on medium-high speed for 2 minutes. With the mixer
on medium, add 1 cup of the granulated sugar, the butter, vanilla,
and sour cream and beat just until combined. On low speed, slowly
add the flour and salt.

Pour the fruit mixture evenly into a 10-inch glass pie plate. Pour the
batter over the fruit, covering it completely. Combine the remaining
1 tablespoon of granulated sugar and 1⁄8 teaspoon of cinnamon and
sprinkle it over the batter. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a toothpick
inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean and the fruit is bubbling around the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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