Cooking Tips rss

Ideas, advice, and what to make now from the Chowhound community and CHOW editors.

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I used to think this was totally pretentious until I rented a furnished apartment with a kitchen scale. It is super convenient and my baking results have never been better!" - ChristinaMason

"I just discovered Newtown pippins. Great for baking AND eating. It's a firm apple so I wouldn't recommend for applesauce or apple butter. But my god the flavor is delightful." - Dcfoodblog

"I made the marmalade on Sunday morning and baked bread on Sunday afternoon. If you could capture that combined smell in an aerosol, you'd be rich." - mandycat

Spiced Nuts They’ll Gobble Up

Whether you serve them as cocktail nibbles or wrap them up to give as gifts, spiced nuts are a snack that people just can't stop eating.

Many hounds love Union Square Cafe's bar nuts recipe, with brown sugar, cayenne, and rosemary. "Union Square nuts are quite simply the best!" raves katecm. They're terrific served warm, but good room temperature as well. cinnamon girl notes that they get crunchier once they've cooled.

amyzan says David Lebovitz's candied peanuts are fantastic warm or cool, and will be "gobbled down astoundingly fast." The recipe works well with almonds, too, she says, adding, "They're crunchy and sweet and super easy because it's all stove top."

karykat loves spiced nuts with sugared bacon, and says, "People just snarf them down." Val is a fan of sweet and spicy candied pecans, and hounds sing the praises of CHOW's Honeyed Cashews with Kosher Salt and Roasted Rosemary Walnuts.

Discuss: What's your best holiday nut recipe?
’Tis the Season--To Go To a Party

The Whole World Loves Spinach

Spinach is a staple green that lends itself to an international roster of cuisines.

Paula76 likes spinach and basil pesto on pasta; just add chopped spinach to your basil pesto recipe. shanagain thinks it's awesome cold on sandwiches, too. "It's like bargain pesto, but SO good," she says. For a fast weeknight dinner, ginnyhw drains a pot of cooked tortellini over a colander of baby spinach leaves; toss together, and the spinach wilts as the boiling water drains. Top with your favorite sauce.

"If you are craving something Japanese," says Yukari, "quickly blanch the spinach and top with soy sauce and sesame oil. If you have some toasted sesame seeds, toss them on top after crushing." thursday fries pancetta until almost crispy, drains off most of the fat, adds chopped garlic and spinach and sautés, before topping with toasted pine nuts, a splash of balsamic vinegar, and salt.

alkapal loves Lebanese spinach turnovers, and agopal says this spinach dal is easy to make.

LindaWhit makes spinach cabrini, a rich pasta casserole, and coll loves Creamed Spinach. bear thinks baked eggs with spinach and mushrooms are delicious.

Discuss: Spinach ideas

Dinner Party Pork Tenderloin

Most dinner hosts want to keep it simple in the kitchen, but still wow guests with an elegant and delicious dish. The answer? Pork tenderloin.

mariacarmen simply salts and peppers a tenderloin, then rolls it in crushed toasted cumin seeds, sears it on all sides, places it in a shallow roasting pan filled with chicken stock or white wine to half the depth of the pork, and braises it for 20 to 30 minutes. It's "very tender and juicy," she says. sparkareno wraps pork tenderloins in pancetta, brushes with a mixture of apricot jam, orange juice, hot mustard, and garlic, and grills.

jmullen1251 stuffs pork tenderloin with spinach and goat cheese, or with sun-dried tomato pesto, Gruyère, and prosciutto. goodhealthgourmet recommends grilled pork tenderloin with mustard, rosemary, and apple marinade and pork tenderloin with roasted grape sauce. They're delicious, and very easy, she says.

CHOW's take: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with apples.

Discuss: Easy yet elegant pork tenderloin ideas

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"The best Alfredo sauce I ever had was simply one part each Parmesan, Romano, and butter kneaded together until soft. Not even any cream. Bits of it were tossed with hot pasta and parsley and oregano were sprinkled on top." - rainey

"Much like nutmeg, caraway can add complexity to so many dishes and people never actually can identify it." - RetiredChef

"Goose is a little darker and richer than duck, but they're far more similar to one another than they are to any other bird." - alanbarnes

Sweet Wine Has a Purpose

Many hounds aren't wild about drinking wines on the sweeter side, but they use them to good effect in both savory and sweet cooking.

A lightly sweet wine is good for braising sauerkraut, according to Will Owen, either with bacon as a side dish, or as part of a full choucroute garni. buttertart steeps prunes in sweet wine and uses this as an accompaniment to pork chops or roasted pork. miss louella loves the results so much when she uses a sweet wine in risotto that she buys sweet wines solely for that purpose.

Vetter uses sweet wines for poaching pears or stone fruit, while Querencia pours sweet wine over cut-up fresh fruit. HillJ says sweet Rieslings are a good base for sorbets and granitas.

Discuss: Half a bottle of too-sweet Riesling

Beets, Beets, Pretty and Sweet

Roasted beets are perennially popular in salads or on their own, but there are other fine ways to cook the sugary root.

Grated beets are nice simply sautéed in butter or oil; add a bit of liquid, cover, and cook until tender. If you add onions, use vinegar as the liquid, and finish with a sprinkle of celery seed: "You get sort of a warm beet-pickle effect," says sfmiller. Grated beets are also a component of recipes such as fettucine with grated beets and cheese, cumin-scented beet latkes, and beet rosti with rosemary.

bizkat likes this beet tzatziki. "Very good," he says. "Beautiful color. Definitely snazzy." Cherylptw adds beets to risotto, and smile81 says beet ravioli with poppy seed butter is simple, but beautiful and "super-tasty."

Discuss: Beet recipes - other than roasted or in a salad?

Truffle Butter, a Luxury Fat

Gilding dishes with truffle butter gives them rich, luxurious flavor. To play up the truffle flavor, keep the background simple.

Mashed potatoes are rainey's favorite vehicle for truffle butter. "It's a simple, hardy base that really lets the truffle flavor take center stage," she says. egging suggests making truffled french fries: Toss fries with a light coat of melted truffle butter and sprinkle with Parmesan.

SpareRib puts a pat on grilled steak, and uses it to finish pan sauces; Kelli2006 uses it to make hollandaise. AndrewK512 stirs it into a basic risotto, and several hounds like it in scrambled or shirred eggs.

maria lorraine puts it on popcorn, and recommends a suitable wine pairing: "Serve with bubbly."

Discuss: What to make with truffle butter?

Overheard on the Home Cooking Boards

"I usually make them in the crockpot and there is something magical about leaving for work with what is essentially a pot of water with stuff floating in it and coming back to find it has turned into soup."
-jzerocsk

"Any lengthy cooking seems to destroy truffle oil. Drizzled over a chicken for roasting results in a lovely aroma for the first half of cooking, then nothing more, and no flavour addition. Drizzled whilst resting after cooking though, is terrific."
-Robin Joy

"When meatballs add grease to your sauce, it's because of the of the fat content from the ground meat you use to make the meatballs."
-mcel215

More to Love About Brussels Sprouts

If you buy Brussels sprouts on the stalk or grow them yourself, don't toss the long leaves that grow from the top of the stalk; they're delicious in their own right.

To remove the tough ribs from the greens, fold each leaf in half along the rib, and either pull the rib away from the greens with your hand or cut it out with a knife. If they are young and tender, add them raw to salads, suggests toodie jane. Otherwise, try steaming or braising them as you would other greens. katierose sautés the greens with onion, garlic, and Fuji apple, and serves them topped with crumbled nuts. scubadoo97 has used the leaves in place of grape leaves when making dolmas, and says they work really well.

Discuss: Brussel Sprout GREENS or LEAVES