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Digging Deep

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gerard Lordahl, the greening director of GrowNYC, offers tips on how to deal with indoor plants and how to help your garden recover from Sandy and survive the winter. New York Times food writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson discuss their 12-month-long head-to-head kitchen duel. We’ll look at a wrongful conviction case—and the effort to overturn it. Plus, physicist Sean Carroll discusses the search for the Higgs boson.

Gerard Lordahl on Plants, Inside and Out

Gerard Lordahl, Greening Director of GrowNYC, talks about how to care for your Christmas cacti and Christmas trees. He’ll also address recovering your garden after Sandy—replacing soil that was washed away, whether to get soil tested for contaminants, as well as how to deal with fallen trees and replacing trees.

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CookFight

New York Times writers Julia Moskin and Kim Severson discuss going head-to-head in a culinary duel that turned into a yearlong cooking battle. CookFight: 2 Cooks, 12 Challenges, 125 Recipes, an Epic Battle for Kitchen Dominance is a chronicle of their skirmishes over the course of 12 months and a look at how two very different people—best friends from wildly divergent backgrounds—approach the kitchen.

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Wrongful Conviction

Radio producer Helen Borten and Daniel Medwed, law professor at Northeastern University and author of Prosecution Compex: America’s Race to Convict and Its Impact on the Innocent, discuss a wrongful conviction murder case that raises hot-button issues: domestic terrorism, racial prejudice—and the techniques of prosecutors that have led to a shocking number of wrongful convictions. Borten made a documentary on the case, which aired in 2004, and she gives an update on a recent hearing.

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The Hunt for the Higgs Boson

Caltech physicist Sean Carroll explains the greatest scientific achievement of our time—finding the Higgs boson, the key to understanding why mass exists. In The Particle at the End of the Universe: How the Hunt for the Higgs Boson Leads Us to the Edge of a New World, he not only explains the importance of the Higgs boson but also the Large Hadron Collider project itself.

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Guest Picks: Julia Moskin

New York Times features writer Julia Moskin was on the Lopate Show recently to talk about her year-long cook-off with her friend and colleague Kim Severson. She also told us what her favorite comfort food is.

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Guest Picks: Kim Severson

New York Times features writer Kim Severson was on the Lopate Show recently to talk about her year-long cook-off with her friend and colleague Julia Moskin. She also told us what her comfort food is!

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Bacon-Fat Gingersnaps

Amazingly, the New York Times fashion critic, Cathy Horyn, is also an accomplished cook and intrepid baker. The equivalent would be if I, a food writer, were also a sleek fashion plate with a deep bench of vintage and modern pieces. This is certainly not the case, so I find her extremely impressive. She claims that these cookies are a Swedish- American tradition in her hometown of Coshocton, Ohio, but I feel they are the cookie equivalent of Paris Fashion Week: a modern, edgy take on a classic. They are truly remarkable, with a robust and smoky undertone that sets them apart from other gingersnaps.

3/4 cup bacon fat (from 1 1/2 to 2 pounds bacon), at room temperature

1 cup sugar, plus 1/4 cup for rolling

1/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap) or cane syrup, such as Steen’s or Lyle’s

1 large egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Combine all the ingredients in a food processor, and pulse until a smooth, stiff dough forms. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Put the 1/4 cup sugar in a shallow bowl. Breaking off 1-tablespoon lumps, roll the dough into balls, drop into the sugar, roll to coat, and place 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the cookies are dark brown. Let cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cookies

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White Bean Soup with Chive Oil

This creamy soup, served in tiny cups and bright with chive oil, is easy to make and serve. Kids will like the little cups and the crazy green swirl. Adults will appreciate the healthfulness and the flavor.

2 cups dried Great Northern or other small white beans, rinsed and picked over

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)

1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and chopped

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

8 garlic cloves, chopped

11 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth, or more as needed

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

1/2 cup half-and-half

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Chive Oil for drizzling (recipe follows)

Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches, and let soak overnight. Drain.

Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, tomato, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute until tender, about 6 minutes.

Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the half-and-half, then add more chicken stock to thin the soup if needed, and reheat the soup if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle into espresso cups and top each with a few squirts or a drizzle of chive oil.

Makes 18 small servings

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