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Monday, November 14, 2011

Also, we’ll look at how opioid-based painkillers like Oxycontin accounted for a small number of prescriptions decades ago, but now are frequently prescribed and frequently abused. Mario Batali shares his favorite seasonal recipes and talks about cooking for family and friends. Plus, Jeff Sharlet discusses his profiles of religious radicals, realists and atheists across the country. Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack talk about their attempt to reconcile science and religion.

Oxycontin: Painful Medicine

Katherine Eban discusses her article “Oxycontin: Painful Medicine” in the November issue of Fortune magazine. Two decades ago opioid sales were a small fraction of today’s figures, bu in recent years, doctors have started prescribing these powerful painkillers more commonly, and addiction to them has skyrocketed. Eban looks at what the strange saga of Purdue Pharma—and its $3 billion drug, OxyContin— tells us about our national dependence on painkillers.

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Mario Batali's Family Meals

Mario Batali shares his favorite seasonal recipes and the joys of sharing meals with friends and family. His latest cookbook, Molto Batali: Simple Family Meals from My Home to Yours, includes recipes from summer salads to hearty winter braises—all easy to prepare and made with simple ingredients. He’s put together month-by-month menus perfect for celebrating at home.

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Jeff Sharlet on Faith in America

Jeff Sharlet explores the borderlands of belief and skepticism, and in Sweet Heaven When I Die: Faith, Faithless, and the Country in Between, he profiles religious radicals, realists, and escapists—from Dr. Cornel West to legendary banjo player Dock Boggs, from the youth evangelist Ron Luce to America's largest "Mind, Body, Spirit Expo." He offers a spiritual landscape.

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The New Universe and the Human Future

Nancy Ellen Abrams and Joel Primack talk about modern cosmology and the origins of the universe. Their book The New Universe and the Human Future brings the new scientific picture of the universe to life. It interprets what our human place in the cosmos may mean for us and our descendants. It offers unique insights into the potential use of this newfound knowledge to find solutions to seemingly intractable global problems such as climate change and unsustainable growth.

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Guest Picks: Mario Batali

Chef Mario Batali was on the Lopate Show recently to discuss his favorite seasonal recipes for family meals, and he also told us what his favorite comfort food is!

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Farfalle Abruzzese with Veal, Porcini, and Spinach, from Molto Batali

3 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 2 cups hot water for 10 minutes
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1½ pounds ground veal shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup double-concentrated tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup basic tomato sauce (for quick results, try my Mario Batali pasta sauces by GiaRussa; see page 312)
1½ pounds farfalle pasta
8 ounces baby spinach, trimmed
½ cup freshly grated Pecorino Romano

Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid, and coarsely chop the porcini. Strain the soaking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve, and set it aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until it is lightly toasted. Add the veal and the chopped porcini, and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the meat is well browned, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the tomato paste. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly, until the paste turns a rust color, 5 minutes. Then add the wine and 1 cup of the strained porcini soaking liquid, and cook for 5 minutes, until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the tomato sauce and reduce the heat to a very low simmer.

Bring 8 quarts of water to a boil in a large spaghetti pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt.

Drop the farfalle into the water and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions indicate. Just before the pasta is done, carefully ladle ¼ cup of the cooking water into the veal mixture. Stir the baby spinach into the veal mixture.

Drain the pasta in a colander, and add it to the veal mixture. Toss over medium heat for about 30 seconds, until the pasta is nicely coated. Pour into a warmed serving bowl and serve immediately, with the grated pecorino on the side.

SERVES 8 TO 10 AS A FIRST COURSE, 6 AS A MAIN

Recipe Courtesy of Molto Batali (ecco 2011).

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Roasted Shallots in a Vinegar-Thyme Bath, from Molto Batali

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 pounds fresh shallots, peeled but left whole, with roots intact
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup sherry vinegar

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Heat the oil and butter in a 14-inch ovenproof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and the sugar, and toss well to coat. Cook, stirring regularly, until the shallots turn light golden brown, 8 minutes.

Place the pan in the oven and roast the shallots for 20 minutes, until they can be easily pierced with a paring knife.

Remove the pan from the oven and place it over medium-low heat. Add the kosher salt, pepper, and thyme leaves, and allow to sizzle for a second. Then add the vinegar and toss quickly to coat. When the vinegar is reduced to just a glaze, pour the shallots and glaze into a warmed shallow bowl, and serve hot.

SERVES 8 TO 10 AS A SIDE DISH

Recipe Courtesy of Molto Batali (ecco 2011).

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Chestnut-Apple Ciambella, from Molto Batali

This moist and delicious Bundt cake has an almost pudding-meets-a-cloud in-heaven texture, thanks to the chestnut flour and the shredded raw apple.

½ cup dried currants
½ cup grappa
1 cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups cake flour
½ cup chestnut flour
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped fresh chestnuts
2 Rome apples (or any soft tart cooking apple), peeled, seeded, and shredded (1½ cups)
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 teaspoons light corn syrup, or more if needed
1 cup mascarpone, at room temperature

Place the currants in a small bowl, add the grappa, and set aside to soak for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour a Bundt pan.

In a large bowl, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, cake flour, chestnut flour, cloves, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well blended. Add the egg yolks, the oil, and the buttermilk, and, using an electric mixer, beat until smooth.

Drain the currants, reserving the soaking grappa. Fold the currants, chestnuts, and apples into the batter.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the batter, and then pour the batter into the Bundt pan. Place the pan in the oven and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

Remove the pan from the oven and set it aside to cool for 10 minutes. Then invert the cake onto a plate.

In a small bowl, stir together the confectioners’ sugar, 4 teaspoons of the reserved soaking grappa, and the corn syrup until smooth and glossy. (If it is too thick to spread, add another teaspoon of corn syrup.) Pour the icing over the peak of the cake all around the ring, and allow it to set for 10 minutes.

Drink a shot of the remaining grappa in the kitchen before serving the cake with a bowl of the mascarpone on the side.

SERVES 8 TO 10

Recipe Courtesy of Molto Batali (ecco 2011).

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