Voyage of Discovery

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

The giant garbage patch in the Pacific ocean grows larger each year, and Captain Charles Moore, who discovered the floating mass of trash, tells how all that plastic got there and what we can do about it. Fanae Aaron and chef Marc Murphy of Landmarc explain how to get your kids to eat their vegetables. Illustrator Peter Sis talks about his adaptation of a classic 12th-century Sufi epic poem. Plus on Underreported, we look at the government’s underestimation of radiation exposure in the screening process at airports.

Plastic Ocean

Captain Charles Moore, seafaring environmentalist and researcher, talks about discovering of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the summer of 1997, when he was sailing from Honolulu to California. He had stumbled upon the largest garbage dump on the planet-a spiral nebula where plastic outweighed zooplankton, the ocean's food base, by a factor of six to one. In Plastic Ocean: How a Sea Captain’s Chance Discovery Launched a Determined Quest to Save the Ocean Moore looks at the secret life and hidden properties of plastics—from milk jugs to polymer molecules small enough to penetrate human skin or be unknowingly inhaled.

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What Chefs Feed Their Kids

Fanae Aaron and Chef Marc Murphy talk about the special challenges of cooking for children. Aaron sought out advice from a diverse group of 20 award-winning chefs who are also parents—including Murphy, Eric Bromberg, Zack Gross, Ana Sortun, Piero Selvaggio, and Floyd Cardoz. What Chefs Feed Their Kids: Recipes and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food includes stories, tips, and 75 recipes—such as Kale and Scrambed Eggs, Baby Lamb Chops, Nori Chips, and Risotto with Pumpkin, Ginger, and Sage.

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Peter Sis on The Conference of the Birds

Celebrated children's book author and illustrator Peter Sis talks about creating his first book for adults, an adaptation of the classic 12th-century Sufi epic poem, The Conference of the Birds. His adaptation tells the story of an epic flight of birds in search of the true king, Simorgh.

Original artwork from Peter Sis’s The Conference of the Birds is on exhibit (and for sale) at Mary Ryan Gallery, 527 West 26th Street.

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Backstory: This Week's G-20 Meeting

The Group of 20 is meeting in Cannes, France, today for the beginning of its two-day summit. The atmosphere surrounding the meeting of the leaders of the world’s largest economies is very tense. Gillian Tett of the Financial Times, and New York Times business and finance correspondent Liz Alderman join us for today’s Backstory and discusses what we can expect out to come out of the summit and whether the G-20 summit can help address the Eurozone debt crisis.

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Underreported: Airport Body Scanners and Cancer

Full body X-ray scanners are now commonplace in airports across America. ProPublica reporter Michael Grabell tells us about a new report that has found that the U.S. government glossed over a number of safety concerns about the the devices—even ignoring concerns about a potential increased risk of cancer.

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Savory Waffles


“One thing my kids really love,” says Chef Linton Hopkins, “is when it’s raining outside at lunchtime and we make a batch of savory waffles. Instead of sugar and syrup, we just fold in Parmesan and Gruyère, if I have some sitting in the refrigerator, and salt and pepper. We use that as a complement to a bunch of soups, like tomato soup. We have a waffle iron that has shapes of animals and a barn, so I ask my kids, ‘Do you want to be the pig today? Or the chicken? Or have a cow?’ ” If you have some sliced ham, you can fold the waffle and make a fun ham sandwich with the waffle as the perfect crispy bun, and in springtime you can add sautéed and chopped asparagus to the batter.

Try adding herbs and other seasonal produce, like pumpkin puree, to the batter instead of cheese. Hopkins makes his waffles from scratch, but you can use your favorite ready mix. We like the multigrain mix from Bob’s Red Mill.

2 cups waffle and pancake mix
2 eggs
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup grated good Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup grated Gruyère or similar cheese

1. Preheat oven to 200°F and place a waiting plate to warm inside. Heat a waffle maker until a flick of water beads and bounces around.

2. Prepare the waffle mix, adding eggs, milk, oil, salt, and pepper, and mix until just combined, adding more milk if the mix is too thick. It should be the consistency of pudding. Then fold in the cheeses.

3. Lightly butter the waffle maker and spoon judicious dollops of the mix onto the center of the hot waffle iron and spread just a bit. The mix will spread when the lid closes and expand as it cooks, so adding too much will be a bit messy as it bubbles out the sides.

4. As the waffles finish, use a fork to lift them off and put them in the oven to stay warm while the rest are made. Waffles are best served warm. Freeze any leftover waffles to enjoy later.

From What Chefs Feed Their Kids, by Fanae Aaron


Risotto with Pumpkin, Ginger, and Sage


I’m always looking for ways to cook pumpkin in the fall when Halloween is all around—it always feels festive and comforting. If pumpkin season has passed, try using sweet potatoes or winter squash.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped leek (white part only)
3 cups peeled pumpkin or winter squash, cut in
1/2-inch cubes (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger
5 cups water or vegetable stock
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
11/2 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
3 teaspoons finely chopped parsley
1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds (recipe at right)

1. In large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat and, when warm, add the leeks, pumpkin or squash, and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat the water or stock in a pot and season with salt and pepper if needed; keep warm over a low flame.

3. In the sauté pan, stir in the sage and rice. Once the rice starts to become translucent, add the white wine and stir. Cook until the wine is all absorbed; then add the stock ladle by ladle, being sure the liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle, and stirring frequently. Continue until the rice is al dente, about 20 to 25 minutes.

4. Add the butter and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, for 1 to 2 minutes, then stir in the cheese.

5. Turn off the heat and let the risotto rest, uncovered, for 3 minutes before serving.

6. Add sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with parsley and Toasted Pumpkin Seeds (recipe follows).
Toasted Pumpkin Seeds:
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (shelled)
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch fine sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. In a bowl, toss the seeds, oil, and salt together. Spread the seeds on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for 15 minutes. Cool until crisp.

From What Chefs Feed Their Kids, by Fanae Aaron


Curried Chickpea Salad


This dish is surprisingly good considering the ingredients are so simple, and it’s a cinch to make. It’s better to eat the same day, once you stir in the fresh herbs.

4 teaspoons best-quality olive oil
1 cup diced onions
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 teaspoons lemon juice, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1. Heat a sauté pan large enough to easily hold the beans over medium heat. When hot, add the oil to heat, then add the onion and sauté until deeply colored, about 6 to 8 minutes, stirring periodically.

2. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper, if using, and continue to sauté until the spices are aromatic and a bit toasted, about 3 minutes.

3. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes to blend the flavors.

4. Remove from heat and cool. Store in the refrigerator, or mix in the fresh cilantro or parsley and serve immediately.

From What Chefs Feed Their Kids, by Fanae Aaron


Red Bean and Walnut Spread


At her restaurant, Oleanna, in Cambridge Massachusetts, Chef Ana Sortun serves this popular dip with homemade string cheese and bread. To prepare it, Sortun spreads the dip out on plastic wrap, tops with herbs, pomegranate molasses, and pomegranate seeds, and rolls the whole thing up. She then serves it in slices. We make the dip plain, spread it on Wasa Lite crackers, and use the herbs and pomegranate seeds on top. Cody didn’t like it right away, but the next day he asked for it, talked about how much he liked it, and wanted more.

1 cup dark red kidney beans, soaked overnight and rinsed well
3 cups water
1/4 white onion, minced
1 bay leaf
3/4 cup walnuts
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped dill
2 teaspoons chopped mint or basil
2 teaspoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 teaspoons pomegranate molasses (you can find this at Whole Foods or similar markets)
Bread, crackers, and string cheese for serving
Garnish for older children and adults: toasted walnuts and pomegranate seeds

1. Combine beans, water, onions, and bay leaf in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and simmer until tender, about an hour.

2. Heat oven to 350°F. Spread the walnuts out on a baking tray and toast for about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring once, and checking frequently until toasted.

3. Drain beans well and discard bay leaf. In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, puree the beans with walnuts, butter, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper until smooth and creamy.

4. Mix chopped herbs together and put aside a small amount for garnish. Blend the rest into the beans and add a splash of water if the mixture is too thick.

5. Season with salt and pepper and serve on warmed bread slices or crackers. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses and sprinkle with herb mix.

6. Serve next to some string cheese. For older children and adults, top with walnuts and pomegranate seeds.

From What Chefs Feed Their Kids, by Fanae Aaron

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