The Leonard Lopate Show

The Leonard Lopate Show

From WNYC Radio

Host Leonard Lopate lets you in on the best conversations with writers, actors, ex-presidents, dancers, scientists, comedians, historians, grammarians, curators, filmmakers, and do-it-yourself experts. Live interaction is critical to Lopate's conversational and personal style.More from The Leonard Lopate Show »

Most Recent Episodes

Leonard Lopate Weekend: Diane Rehm, Diversifying Corporate Leadership, Gail Lumet Buckley

Longtime NPR radio host Diane Rehm discusses her memoir On My Own about her late husband's battle with Parkinson's disease, and her involvement in the right-to-die movement. Journalist Ellen McGirt and Richard Gray, director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, discuss what factors contribute to the lack of racial diversity in corporate America, and why black men and women make up less than 5% of the executives in the Fortune 100. Gail Lumet Buckley talks about uncovering the lives of former slaves, professionals and civil rights activists, including her mother, actress Lena Horne, when she investigated her family ancestry.

Listen to the Episode

We're Wrapped Up in Tacos!

Over the past few years, tacos have risen from humble street food (and Americanized fast food) to trendy options at a growing number of restaurants. A staple of Mexican cuisine, they've been adopted by different cultures and are even showing up on brunch and dessert menus. On this week's Please Explain, Chef Alex Stupak, owner of the Empellón restaurant group, and food writer Jordana Rothman, will tell us how to make fresh tortillas, salsas, moles, as well as traditional and modern fillings. They'll also share tips and recipes from their book Tacos: Recipes and Provocations. Do you have questions about tacos? Send us your questions in a comment below, or let us know on Twitter or Facebook! Recipe: Tacos al Pastor (From Tacos: Recipes and Provocations by Alex Stupak & Jordana Rothman) Short of investing in a vertical broiler, this hack is the closest you'll get to al pastor tacos at home. We tend to think of pork shoulder as something that needs to be braised, but a well-butchered shoulder steak given a swift ride on a ripping hot grill can be a thing of beauty—the wide surface area means more of that good Maillard char you want from al pastor. Take your time when slicing the finished meat: thin, bias-cut slivers are the ideal texture here. MAKES 12 TACOS ADVANCE PREPARATION 1 cup Adobo (see below) Salsa Roja (see below), for serving Raw Salsa Verde (see below), for serving FOR THE FILLING Vegetable oil, for the grill Four 1⁄2-inch-thick boneless pork shoulder steaks (2 pounds total) Kosher salt, as needed TO ASSEMBLE THE TACOS 1⁄4 ripe pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 24 even slices 1⁄2 medium white onion, minced 60 cilantro leaves (from about 15 sprigs), roughly chopped 2 limes, each cut into 6 wedges 1 recipe Corn or Flour Tortillas MAKE THE FILLING: Preheat a grill to the hottest possible setting and brush with vegetable oil. Slather about 1 cup of the Adobo all over the pork steaks and season liberally with salt. Place the pork steaks on the hot grill and cook for 3 minutes. Rotate 45 degrees and cook for another 3 minutes. Flip and continue to cook for 3 minutes. The finished steaks should have visible charred grill marks. Remove from the grill, transfer to a plate, and set aside to rest in a warm place. Make one batch of tortillas and hold them warm. Cut the pork steaks against the grain and on the bias—you want the slices to be as thin as possible, almost shaved, to achieve the right tenderness and texture for al pastor. ASSEMBLE THE TACOS: Lay out the warm tortillas on serving plates. Evenly distribute the grilled pork and the pineapple slices among the tortillas. Top with some of the Salsa Roja and Raw Salsa Verde, along with the minced onion and chopped cilantro. Squeeze a couple of the lime wedges over the tacos and serve the rest on the side. ADOBO Masa may be the bedrock of Mexican cuisine, but adobo is what makes it sing. The dried chile paste is a component in countless dishes, slathered on robust meats like the pork for Al Pastor Tacos and the lamb for the Lamb Barbacoa Tacos. The dried chile and aromatic spice flavors in this paste are versatile, so adobo is a useful thing to have around to add instant depth—try thinning it with oil and using it to dress a hearty vegetable, like asparagus. Adobo will last 1 week in the refrigerator, and 1 month in an airtight container in the freezer. MAKES ABOUT 2 1⁄3 CUPS 8 ancho chiles 8 guajillo chiles 1 chipotle morita chile 3 whole cloves 1⁄4 teaspoon cumin seeds One 2-inch stick of canela (Mexican cinnamon) 1 teaspoon black peppercorns 1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano 20 garlic cloves, skins on 1 cup cider vinegar Remove the stems from the chiles and tear the chiles open. Shake out and discard the seeds. Tear the chiles into small pieces. Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the cloves, cumin seeds, canela, black peppercorns, and oregano; toast, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove the spices from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Toast the ancho, guajillo, and chipotle morita chiles, turning from time to time until you see the first wisp of smoke, about 30 seconds. Transfer the chiles to a bowl, cover with hot tap water, and place a heavy plate over the chiles to keep them submerged. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and roast, turning them from time to time, until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic from the skillet, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once the cloves are cool enough to handle, peel them and discard the skins. Drain the chiles and place in a blender along with the ground spices, roasted garlic, and vinegar, and puree to a paste. You may need to add a bit of water to the blender to help the chiles pass easily through the blades. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. SALSA ROJA Salsa roja and salsa verde are the ebony and ivory of the salsa universe: Whereas verde supplies brightness and clean, sharp heat, roja offers gentle spice and dried-herb warmth. It makes sense that the two keep such close company—you'll encounter versions of both at nearly every taqueria in Mexico. For my salsa roja, I looked to guajillo chile, one of the workhorses of the Mexican pantry. Cheap and ubiquitous, these dried peppers impart the mild heat, distinctive berry-like aroma, and deep, rusty hue that define a good roja. MAKES ABOUT 2 CUPS 2 plum tomatoes 10 guajillo chiles 1 chipotle morita chile 1⁄2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano 1⁄8 teaspoon cumin seeds 5 garlic cloves, skins on 1 1⁄2 teaspoons kosher salt 1 tablespoon sugar 1 tablespoon cider vinegar Preheat the broiler. Roast the tomatoes on a baking sheet under the broiler until blackened in spots, about 7 minutes. Turn them over and continue to blacken, about another 7 minutes. Remove from the broiler and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the tomatoes and discard the skins. Remove the stems from the guajillo and chipotle chiles and tear them open. Shake out and discard the seeds. Remove and discard the veins. Set a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Add the oregano and cumin seeds and toast briefly, shaking the pan, until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Remove from the heat, transfer to a spice grinder, and grind to a fine powder. Reheat the skillet over medium heat. Toast the guajillo and chipotle chiles, turning them from time to time until you see the first wisp of smoke, about 45 seconds. Remove pan from heat, and transfer the chiles to a bowl. Cover them with hot tap water and place a heavy plate over the chiles to keep them submerged. Set aside to soak for 30 minutes. Add the garlic cloves to the skillet and roast, turning them from time to time until softened slightly and blackened in spots, about 6 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the garlic from the skillet, and set aside to cool at room temperature. Once they are cool enough to handle, peel the garlic cloves and discard the skins. Drain the soaked chiles and discard the liquid. Place them in a blender along with the ground spices and roasted garlic, the salt, sugar, cider vinegar, and ¼ cup water. Puree on high speed until completely smooth, working in batches if necessary. Set up a medium-mesh sieve over a bowl and pass the puree through the strainer. Transfer to a container or refrigerate until ready to use. The salsa will keep for up to 3 days. RAW SALSA VERDE Raw ingredients speak (shout, actually) for themselves in this purist salsa verde. It's all about the green apple acidity of ripe tomatillo, the heat of untreated chiles, and the garlicky sting right up front. MAKES ABOUT 1 CUP 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 serrano chiles, stemmed and roughly chopped 1⁄2 medium white onion, minced 3–4 medium tomatillos (about 5 ounces total), husked, rinsed, patted dry, and diced 1 teaspoon honey 40 cilantro leaves (from about 10 sprigs), roughly chopped EQUIPMENT: Molcajete* Place the garlic in the molcajete with the salt and crush to a paste using the tejolote. Add the chiles and minced onion to the paste and crush to a coarse texture. Add the tomatillos and continue crushing with the tejolote until pulpy. Season with the honey and stir with a spoon. Add the chopped cilantro and stir to combine. Transfer to a container and refrigerate until ready to use. The finished salsa is best eaten the day it is made; if you want to work ahead, don't add the cilantro to the salsa until the day you plan to serve it. *If you don't have a molcajete, prep all the ingredients as instructed and add them, minus the cilantro, at once to the jar of a blender. Pulse to combine then stir in the chopped cilantro. "Recipe reprinted from TACOS: RECIPES AND PROVOCATIONS by Alex Stupak and Jordana Rothman. Copyright ©2015 by Empellon Holdings LLC. Photos by Evan Sung. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC."

Listen to the Episode

We're Jazzing Up Our Meals with Infusions. Join Us!

New York Times columnist Melissa Clark returns to talk about our infusions listener challenge! She gave us easy DIY recipes to brighten winter meals, including infused vinegar, preserved lemons and garlic hot sauce. Check out what our listeners have sent us so far and submit your own photos here. Check out Melissa Clark's latest infusion recipes: Preserved Lemons with Chiles and Star Anise Time: 10 minutes plus 1 month 8 lemons 1 cup kosher salt Juice of 3 to 4 lemons 1 to 2 star anise pods 6 dried chile de arbol or other dried rec chiles 1. Scrub lemons. Trim ends of the lemons, quarter lengthwise almost to the ends, but leaving quarters still attached at one end. Remove the seeds. Rub insides of lemons with salt, about 2 tablespoons per lemon. 2. Pack then into clean quart-sized jar, squishing lemons down to bottom. Add fresh lemon juice to cover lemons completely. Add anise pods and chiles. 3. Cover jar and leave out on counter for about a week, giving the jar a turn every day or so to help dissolve the salt. Let jar sit in fridge for another month or so, with an occasional turn and shake. Will keep refrigerated for at least a year. Israeli Couscous Salad with Apricots and Preserved Lemon Time: 15 minutes Serves 12 3 cups Israeli (aka pearl) couscous, whole-wheat or regular 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 2 tablespoons sherry or white wine vinegar 3/4 teaspoon coarse kosher salt, more to taste 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 3/4 cup chopped dried apricots 3/4 cup torn fresh mint leaves 2/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh dill 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, more to taste 1/2 cup chopped scallion, white and light green parts 2 1/2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon Fresh lemon juice, to taste Chopped pistachio nuts, for garnish (optional) 1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add couscous and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain. 2. Meanwhile, in a small dry skillet, toast cumin seeds until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Lightly crush them in a mortar and a pestle (or use the flat side of a heavy knife and a cutting board). Add to a bowl with the warm couscous, vinegar, salt and pepper and toss well. When the couscous is cool, add remaining ingredients and mix well. Taste and add more salt, lemon juice, and/or oil if needed.

Listen to the Episode

A Deep Dive into Dips and Snacks for Super Bowl Sunday

Are you ready for some snacking? Dan Pashman, host of WNYC's The Sporkful podcast gives us the lowdown on essential Super Bowl snacks - from the best tortilla chips for guacamole and salsa, to the art, science and etiquette of nachos. Also see: The Leonard Lopate Show's Compendium of Dips! Event: Dan Pashman returns to The Greene Space for a live taping of The Sporkful podcast on March 24. Ticket and show information can be found here.

Listen to the Episode

Bottle Shock: Uncovering Counterfeiting and Crime in the Wine Industry

Christine Haughney, senior investigations editor at Zero Point Zero Productions, discusses her Food Republic series that dives into "Wine Crimes." From the $300,000 thefts of wine at Thomas Keller's The French Laundry in Napa Valley, to burgeoning criminal cells across Europe that are now manufacturing fake wines, to the story of Rudy Kurniawan, who was sentenced to ten years in prison for operating a massive counterfeiting scheme in the United States.

Listen to the Episode

Harassment, Unconscious Bias and the Reality for Women Working in Tech

Trae Vassallo, an independent investor and strategic advisor to Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, joins Rachel Sklar, writer and co-founder of The Li.st, to discuss Vassallo's recent study on sexism in the tech industry called, "Elephant in the Valley." The survey reveals the experiences of women working at major tech companies such as Apple and Google and looks at the bias and sexual harassment professional women face on a daily basis. Event: The Li.st is presenting an event on income inequality in relationships featuring panelists and financial experts on Feb 10th at LMHQ (150 Broadway, 20th Floor).

Listen to the Episode

The Irish Financial Crisis, as Told by an Introverted Banker and a Desperate Author

Irish author Paul Murray talks about his latest novel The Mark and the Void which has been hailed as a brilliant satire of the banking crisis in Ireland that coincided with the Great Recession of 2008.

Listen to the Episode

Can We Predict the Next Pandemic?

How have climate change and globalization affected the spread of disease? Columbia University virologist and professor of epidemiology Dr. Stephen Morse joins us to discuss the Zika virus and global pandemics. He'll also tell us how Zika differs from SARS and Ebola.

Listen to the Episode

Philip Glass on his Music, Career and the Annual Tibet House Benefit Concert

Composer Philip Glass talks about his long career in music, as well his role as artistic director of the 26th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert. This year's line-up features musicians including Gogol Bordello, Iggy Pop, FKA twigs and Sharon Jones. Event: The 26th Annual Tibet House US Benefit Concert will be held on February 22nd at 7:30 p.m. at Carnegie Hall. Tickets are available online through Carnegie Hall.

Listen to the Episode

Diane Rehm on her Career, Widowhood, and Championing the Right to Die

Longtime NPR radio host Diane Rehm joins us to discuss her memoir On My Own about her late husband's battle with Parkinson's disease and how she rebuilt her life without him after 54 years of marriage. She writes about the practical challenges, emotional pain and her involvement in the right-to-die movement. Event: Diane Rehm will be signing copies of her book and she'll be joined in conversation by WNYC's Anna Sale, host of the Death, Sex & Money podcast, on February 3rd at 7 p.m. at Strand Books (828 Broadway at 12th Street).

Listen to the Episode

Back To Top

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from